The concept and implications of shared trauma have been widely debated and discussed within the field of psychology, but these studies do not adequately attend to the experiences of signed language interpreters. This thesis addresses the potential outcomes and impacts of shared trauma on interpreters and consumers with special attention to assignment content that specifically relates to said trauma. Qualitative research was conducted through interviews with interpreters selected at random from participants in the initial survey. Interview data was categorized into pre-, during, and post-assignment information and several patterns were found. Within the pre-assignment interview data, interpreters discussed the decision to accept work, including assignment content, a sense of obligation, and the need to build a reputation. Within the during assignment interview data, interpreters discussed their emotional response, a fight or flight response, the value of team interpreting, and the effectiveness of their work. Within the post-assignment interview data, interpreters discussed their own personal engagements as well as debriefing and supervision. The discussion based on the interview content included several topics: interpreter training programs, confidentiality, interpreters as members of the Deaf community, the value of having a voice, and the mental health of interpreters. Recommendations for further research include studies with greater than three interview candidates, considerations for interpreters within marginalized groups who experience shared trauma, studies on the impact of interpreting shared trauma on the working memory of practitioners, and comparing the experiences of interpreters with and without a team interpreter.

Exit Requirement


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies

Committee Chair

Amanda Smith

Committee Member

Carolyn Ball

Committee Member

Tara Stevens


shared trauma, sign language interpreters, mental health, ethics



Type (DCMI Terms)


Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Language Interpretation and Translation | Sign Languages

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