Interpreting through Stress and Anxiety

Interpreters today are facing feelings of stress and anxiety internally and externally more than ever before. The key to self-care is to be honest and real with ourselves! Lisa and Mila share tips for staying connected to yourself while interpreting. Acknowledging our internal states and engaging in activities to stay connected to ourselves are just as important to our well-being as social distancing and eating well during stressful periods.


Lisa Dion, LPC, RPT-S

Lisa Dion is an international teacher, creator of Synergetic Play Therapy, founder and President of the Synergetic Play Therapy Institute, and host of the Lessons from the Playroom podcast. She is the 2015 recipient of the Association for Play Therapy’s Professional Education and Training Award of Excellence and the author of Aggression in Play Therapy: A Neurobiological Approach for Integrating Intensity. Lisa is also a Master Certified Demartini Method Facilitator providing education and support to individuals and organizations worldwide.

Ludmila Golovine

Ludmila Golovine is President/CEO of MasterWord Services, Inc., a global language solutions company. As a language professional, Golovine knows first-hand how interpreting, especially in the healthcare, social services, education, and legal arenas, may present challenges such as stress, anxiety, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma. For the past 10 years, she has applied her skills as a Certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner and a Trained Demartini Method Facilitator to tirelessly help promote health and wellness to those in the language services industry.


Ludmila Golovine:
Hello, everybody, thank you for joining us today. We have a very special guest, Lisa Dion. Lisa if you’ll share a little bit about yourself. We have a question that we wanted to ask: a lot of language professionals today helping with the the Coronavirus outbreak. They are working right, the long of the sides professionals in hospitals and other areas providing language access to patients. A lot of language professionals, possibly in very highly stressed situations. So again, thank you for joining us and thank you for your advise.

Lisa Dion:
Absolutely! So I am the creator of Synergetic Play Therapy and the president of the Synergetic Play Therapy Institute. And I think just what’s relevant about that in this context is, I work within train professionals on how to integrate trauma, how to work with healing and, more importantly, which is really important for now is how to regulate our own physiology and how to regulate our nervous systems, which speaks directly to the question, Mila, that you just asked. 

Interpreter’s that are on the frontline right now and actually always been on the frontline are feeling the intensity more than ever. So they have their own anxiety and stress about the situation, and then they’re also having to interpret while feeling the stress and anxiety of everyone else that they are helping be a bridge for. So, I think the number one thing that I want people to hear it understand is that your nervous system is going to be activated and it’s totally normal that your nervous system is highly activated right now. 

So, some of you may be experiencing high levels of anxiety, irritability, overwhelmed others of you. Maybe at the point, we actually starting to feel your own nervous system going to shut down. Maybe you’re numbing out a little bit. Maybe you’re finding yourself even a little disassociative, not very grounded. And just I want you just to recognize that all of that is information letting you know that your body is attempting to manage the level of intensity that you are perceiving. So that’s gonna happen right now. I don’t think that we have a choice about that right now. We’re all experiencing it to some degree.

The key piece and all of it is, what do we actually do with it?

So it’s not about making that go away. It’s not about trying to just stay calm and pretend like nothing’s happening. It’s actually about being honest and real about our own experience and then finding ways to stay connected to ourselves. So really, we’re hearing so much about all of the procedures, right? So social distancing and washing your hands and this and that. But we’re not hearing people talk about what do we do with our own internal states. So the number one thing that we need to be doing when we’re on the front line right now is how do we manage our own regulation and our nervous system? How do we work to stay connected to ourselves in the midst of the activation, which allows us to be in our prefrontal cortex, which is where you need to be if you’re gonna translate? We’re not able to translate very well. If we are stuck down in our reactionary mode, actually, you’re gonna lose our ability to even think logically through the conversation and to find the words and all of that. 

So making sure that as you’re facilitating that you’re really grounding yourself in the moment you feel your feet on the floor. Rub your legs if you need to rub your legs, if that that doesn’t seem too odd in the environment that you’re in. Really take time to regulate your breathing. Being honest and real with yourself, it’s okay to name to yourself. I’m feeling scared right now, or I’m feeling anxious. Um, you know, keep, uh, keep some level of awareness, some level of connection with yourself going right now, because your ability to do that is what’s going to create an internal sense of safety for you. 

When we let go of that thread when we let go of our own regulation is when we actually start to emotionally flood, and we become consumed by the fear, and we become consumed by the by the activation. And then we are reacting instead of responding. So that’s the number one thing that I would say is we’re all different what our bodies need, but really take time and think about what do you need to do to stay connected to yourself? Do you need to walk more? Do you need to have a cup of tea with you? Do you need to do certain things in the moment when you’re translating. Like I said, breathing, feel your feet on the ground more. Do you need to have some quiet time when you get home? Do you have a particular practice that you engage in that you could be doing more regularly just to keep yourself a little bit more alert and aware in your own nervous system?

But I’m really serious right now when I say that this thing that I’m talking about, we need to make this just as much of a priority as getting good sleep, eating well, washing our hands, practicing social distancing. But this is another major, major piece of the puzzle for our own self care and well being, so that we don’t walk away with vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue at a whole other level, which there’s a high probability of that right now. 

Ludmila Golovine:
Thank you so much, and we encourage you to use the link below to send us questions and concerns that you may have, as we will be reaching back out to Lisa Dion and she’ll be answering any additional questions in our next episode. 

Thank you so much Lisa

About MasterWord

MasterWord Services, Inc., a woman-owned business established in 1993, is ranked in the Top 20 largest language service providers in North America by the market research firm, Common Sense Advisory. A top-quality provider of industry-specific language solutions, the company works with more than 300 clients in Fortune 500 companies. These include energy and engineering, healthcare, life sciences, government, technology, insurance, finance, education, and non-profit organizations with requirements in more than 250 languages and across four continents. MasterWord’s strength lies in understanding its clients’ unique challenges and tailoring custom solutions for success. The company delivers a broad spectrum of solutions for clients operating in a highly regulated, fast-paced, deadline-driven environment, always striving to exceed our clients’ expectations.