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img_4632On Saturday 19th January 2019 Lynx presented two separate sessions on Professional Supervision in Vancouver, British Columbia, at the invitation of WAVLI (Westcoast Association of Visual Language Interpreters).
The sessions were held in the lovely Aboriginal Gathering Place at Douglas College, New Westminster.  Each session was for two hours, incorporating a brief overview of the rationale and theory of Professional Supervision as well as the experience of a practical group supervision. This gave the Canadian participants (both hearing and Deaf interpreters) a taste of what supervision has to offer, and gave some extra impetus to those interpreters who are keen to undertake some training in this field. The sessions were very well received and will be repeated in June 2019, as there is a waiting list of 52 interpreters wanting to know more about this vital form of professional development.

Some comments from participants, in response to the question “Most useful learning from the sessions?”:

“That supervision is for all levels of experience”

“Made me realize that we really need this kind of support here – so many interpreters would benefit from this”

“Great ‘taste’ of what supervision is: impressive in such a short time frame”

“Nice blend of overview, context and practical”

“What supervision is, how it can be done, why it is important.”

Lynx has received a further invitation to present in Victoria, BC, in October 2019.

Saturday November 3rd 2018

Five Christchurch interpreters attended this all day Professional Development offered by Connect Interpreting, with another interpreter attending for the morning session on ‘Self Care’ and one more for the afternoon supervision session.

Julia Freeman, building on the very successful ‘Self Care for Interpreters’ PD held in Auckland in August 2018 (presented by Julia, and Kimberley Olivecrona), facilitated the morning session. This very comprehensive presentation included identifying the various aspects of self care; emotional, mental, physical, social, spiritual and practical. These aspects were further expanded upon to highlight what sorts of activities fall into each category, informed in part by interpreters’ own self care preferences. Julia also presented information about resources which can assist in identifying one’s personality and/or disposition, an important factor when considering one’s own individual self care needs. There was also a discussion about possible barriers to self care; again, important to identify what may be preventing an interpreter from using self care strategies. Finally Julia offered a comprehensive list of tools and resources for self care.

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After lunch Lynx facilitated a two hour supervision session. This included a brief introduction to Professional Supervision, explaining the difference between supervision, mentoring, coaching and counseling. She outlined some of the approaches and models of Professional Supervision, explaining her preferred approach and model and why she believes supervision is a vital tool for interpreters’ ongoing reflection and learning. This was followed by a practical group supervision session, during which curious questions were asked by the group participants and which led to some insights and potential strategies.

The feedback from the day was overwhelmingly positive. Connect looks forward to offering more PD sessions outside the Auckland region.

Connect is delighted to have sponsored Nigel Howard’s Keynote at the WASLI Oceania conference in Fiji, reflecting our ongoing commitment to the development of Deaf Interpreting in NZ and internationally

Nigel

In 2016, we had the privilege of being the recipients of Connect’s new graduate internships. It was the first year that Connect had decided to offer two internships instead of one, and since we had gone through the interpreting course as classmates and friends, it felt great to know that both of us would be experiencing the many benefits offered by the internship programme.

The first year of interpreting after graduation is full of challenges for any new grad. There is always a steep learning curve that comes when you finally start working as an interpreter, and there are many things that can only be learned by actually doing the job. Thankfully, the support offered by the internship meant that although we encountered plenty of challenges, we knew that there were always people with experience and expertise to guide us through them. Having a booking co-ordinator like Shiz (who was very familiar with us and our skills, having also taught us as students) meant that the jobs we were assigned to were challenging enough to stretch us, but not so hard that we were not competent to do them effectively. The huge range of contexts and clients we worked with gave us invaluable opportunities to develop our skills as professional interpreters.

Supervision has been a huge support for us in reflecting on 2016’s challenges and successes. Without the benefit of experienced hands guiding us through the process of self-analysis, we’d have found it difficult to accurately judge our ethical decision-making. Our supervisors offer fresh perspectives on the challenges we have faced, and, more crucially, help us to see more clearly where we might have put a foot wrong without realising it, or where we may have made a good decision when it didn’t feel like it at the time.

With solid and unfailing support behind us, we feel that 2017 will be a time of even more growth. We are looking forward to discovering new areas of strength by saying ‘yes’ to more challenging opportunities, and building up our strategic toolkits with tips and tricks gleaned from our colleagues. 

Julia & Reb

A huge thanks to Lynx of Connect Interpreting for the supervision workshop provided during the final weekend of October. Lynx very generously travelled to Palmerston North and ran the workshop at no cost for local interpreters. It was an excellent workshop and a rare PD opportunity for interpreters in the area. Unfortunately, Hawkes Bay had previous commitments, but Wairarapa, Manawatu and W(h)anganui were able to attend. A donation was accepted on behalf of DINZ.

Lynx began with an explanation of the difference between mentoring and supervision. This was very helpful, as only one member of the group had previous experience of formal Supervision. The benefits and aims of Supervision were also discussed and Lynx presented the What? / So What? / Now What? model.

At the request of one member of the group, the subject of vicarious trauma was also discussed. Lynx took us through the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale (this can be found on Wikipedia) – the scale rates a variety of life events with different values, up to 100. We were asked to tick all the life events that we had experienced in the past 12 months, then add up the corresponding values – the final score gives participants an indication of whether they have slight, moderate or high risk of illness. First this scale was applied to ourselves, and then it was applied to scenarios that we have experienced/witnessed in our roles as interpreters. The results were somewhat shocking for most of the interpreters in the group. Lynx recommended Tarsha Cutelli’s write-up of Rachel Coppage’s Vicarious Trauma workshop as helpful follow-on reading. This article can be found on the Connect Interpreting website.

A discussion was had around the “rules” for effective supervision – ask appropriate questions, avoid offering advice or answers, don’t moralize, etc. and then the group engaged in a session, guided by Lynx. Each participant was given the opportunity to discuss and to consider strategies for improvement around real-life interpreting scenarios that had raised challenges/demands of one kind of another – intrapersonal, interpersonal, environmental or linguistic.

As “outerpreters” we mostly work solo. Life can be busy. Without a decision to regularly participate in supervision, jobs follow jobs, and it can sometimes be difficult to carve out the time to stop and constructively reflect on the work we have done. Now, having a framework for peer supervision, we can more effectively focus on what we have experienced as interpreters (What?), analyse our feelings and think about why we did what we did (So What?), and consider how we might do things differently the next time (Now What?). Everybody wins.

As a group our intention is to meet together every second month for peer supervision.

Thank you Lynx and thank you Connect Interpreting for running such a valuable workshop for us.

Ruth Metcalf

Last month, a group of around 20 interpreters attended a Connect professional development session which focussed on the concept of mindfulness. Mindfulness is often used as a way to manage stress, so this training fit in well with Connect’s PD theme for 2016 of ‘self-care’.

Running the session was Dr Chantal Hofstee, a clinical psychologist and the director of the company Renew Your Mind. She started off the session by talking about stress, and taking us through some brief mental exercises to become more aware of the physical responses we can detect in our bodies simply by thinking about a stressful situation. Although all of us are aware that stress isn’t good for us, it can be easy to forget that stress has real, negative effects on our physical health as well as our emotional wellbeing.

For example, we may be more aware of the fact that stress can lead to tight muscles in our shoulders and neck, or that we tend to breathe more shallowly if we are stressed, but not many of us would be aware that increased stress levels also increase blood sugar levels, suppress the immune system and increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. These are just a few examples, and the effects of long term stress can be serious.

Dr Hofstee also guided us through how stress can affect our emotional responses to a situation, and that our thoughts have a huge impact on our emotions. By being more aware of the thoughts we may not be conscious of, we can actually start to have more control over the emotional responses which we thought were automatic – such as stress.

Although stress is not usually considered a positive thing, Dr Hofstee explained that the stress response is our body’s way of protecting us from a perceived threat to our safety. The stress response state has been hard-wired into our brains for as long as our species has existed. For example, if you’re running away from a sabre-toothed tiger then stress is very useful – increased adrenaline allows us to run faster and respond more quickly and flexibly in order to escape. But the problem in our modern lives is that we rarely face sabre-toothed tigers! In other words, most of the time our stress response is not linked to a real emergency, because our mental state is triggered by our thoughts (usually that we can’t cope) – not necessarily by the situation itself.

One of the most interesting concepts Dr Hofstee taught us about was the concept of red-brain vs. green-brain. She described us as being in red-brain when we are stressed, and in green-brain when we are relaxed and feel present and connected to what we are doing, and asked us to consider how much of our time we spend in each of those states. We were also asked to reflect on what triggers us each to move into red-brain, and it was easy to understand how some of our answers were relevant to the stress we experience in our work. The overall aim of mindfulness is to practice spending more time in green-brain so that we can become less stressed, and avoid the ‘acting without thinking’ that is typical of people who are stressed.

However, we also learned that our brains are incredibly flexible. Research around neuroplasticity has shown that we can ‘rewire’ our brains, simply by changing what we think and do. This is a process that happens through strengthening and weakening neural pathways in the brain. Put simply, every time we think or do a certain thing, that pathway in our brain gets stronger (and pathways become weaker if we rarely think or do that thing). Whenever we need to respond to something in our environment we’re likely to use the stronger pathways.

So that basically tells us that if we want to be a more mindful and less stressed person we have to practice it so that those neural pathways become stronger and a more mindful response becomes like a subconscious habit.

Before taking us through some examples of mindfulness exercises, Dr Hofstee reiterated that mindfulness really just means paying attention with kindness; if we’re not paying attention to what we’re thinking and feeling then we can’t change it, and if we’re not simply observing with kindness then we are judging (which is a red-brain trigger). As interpreters, many of us can get caught in a cycle of self-judgment if we don’t feel satisfied with how a job went, so it was a good reminder to us that being overly-critical of ourselves (and/or others) only raises our stress levels and doesn’t serve us in a helpful way.

The feedback from the session was overwhelmingly positive, and many of us bought Dr Hofstee’s book and/or CD (also available on the Renew Your Mind website). Connect will be attempting to organise a longer session in July or August aimed specifically at interpreters and focussed on using mindfulness for stress management – watch this space! Details of other workshops Dr Hofstee runs can be found on the website.

On the 24th of March Connect Interpreting hosted a Professional Development meeting about Vicarious Trauma (VT). It was presented by Lynx and Rachel Coppage, who did a fantastic job. It was very enlightening, and has the possibility for the interpreters involved to reap long term benefits.  We started by brainstorming what we thought VT was. Some of the ideas were:

  • Recognising trauma in others that triggers reminders of trauma in ourselves (self-identification)
  • Empathy
  • Oppression, or perception of oppression
  • Injustice
  • Compassion

VT was then defined as:

  • The emotional residue of trauma
  • Repeated exposure to traumatic information and the trauma of others

It is also repeated occupational stress and secondary traumatic stress.  This is also linked to external and internal factors in ourselves.  This is because we cannot be totally removed from a situation, so any trauma or stress that is occurring in that situation will be linked to our here and now as well as our past life events.

External factors include confidentiality, perceived oppression and the cost of caring and the myth of neutrality.  Internal factors include things like our past traumas, our inner voice (negative and positive) and how we cope with things like stress and worry.  We then compared being overly emotional, eg emotionally interconnected, as opposed to being overly cognitive, eg maintaining a protective numbness around ourselves.

After this was a very interesting exercise.  We completed the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. Normally this scale is done just for yourself, but we were asked to pick a couple of clients and complete the scaled, to the best of our ability, for them too.  The majority of the people present had a higher scale rating for their clients than they did for themselves, and this showed some of the subtler types of VT that we take on in our day to day lives.

Finally, we looked at how we could use VT in a positive way and how we could lessen the impact of VT in our lives.  We were given suggestions on ways to do this, including:

  • Talk about your feelings with someone, or look at retelling the story to yourself to encourage post-traumatic growth
  • Seeking collegial support to explore action ideas
  • Compare similarities and differences between the traumatised person’s and your experiences
  • Create a self-care plan
  • Create a discourse map for better mental preparation for high risk situations.

I loved some of the practical solutions that we talked about. These included regular attendance at the Connect Peer Supervision groups, self-care through exercise and me time and doing something to ‘shake off’ the work day, like having a shower.  Another suggestion from a friend of mine after I told them about the meeting was keeping a Gratitude Journal.  She recommends writing 5 things that you are grateful for each day in a journal. Some of these can be as simple as someone smiling at you as they pass to a morning or afternoon tea chat with close friend you haven’t seen in a while.

I learnt A LOT from this very short session! I learnt that while our internal and external factors will always be present, it is how I react to them and how I view them, be it positive or negative, that will mostly colour how I am affected by these factors.  Thanks to the Connect team for hosting this meeting, and a special thank you to Rachel Coppage for her insight and expertise in the area of VT.

Tarsha Cutelli