Language concordant mental health care is the gold standard in supporting deaf people, however, there are not enough mental health providers who use American Sign Language (ASL). Use of interpreters remains necessary for provision of services. There is a chronic shortage of interpreters and even smaller numbers qualified for work in mental health settings. Many professional ASL/English interpreters choose not to work in mental health. Through qualitative interviews, this study explored reasons why. Participants shared their mental health interpreting experiences and reasons for no longer working in the setting. Data showed that a variety of demands related to the work of interpreting in mental health created substantial barriers for them. For one, they did not have any specialized training. There is only one comprehensive mental health interpreter training in the U.S. Participants experienced lack of preparedness, difficulty understanding language impacted by mental health symptoms, challenging intrapersonal responses, and limited access to structured professional support. This study examined barriers to the work of mental health interpreting, explored recommendations, and is a step in the direction toward identifying facilitators to mental health interpreting.

Exit Requirement


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies

Committee Chair

Amanda Smith

Committee Member

Audrey Ramirez-Loudenback

Committee Member

Alexander Wilkins


interpreting, deaf, sign language interpreting, deaf mental health, mental health interpreting, interpreting specialization, interpreter training



Type (DCMI Terms)

Text; Image; StillImage

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