Center for Healthy Interpreting

Center for Healthy Interpreting The Center for Healthy Interpreting is a place where interpreters can come together to learn a variety of mind-body, ergonomic, nutritional and other practices and to keep themselves healthy, physically fit and better able to manage stress.

New online course from TerpHealth: "Understanding and Decompressing from Stress and Vicarious Trauma."

New online course from TerpHealth: "Understanding and Decompressing from Stress and Vicarious Trauma."

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: I have developed an online course for interpreters who work in emotionally triggering environments, such as VRS, Mental Health, Medical, Court, Education, etc. The class is hosted on Interpretek's continuing education page - the link is below. The course is called "Understanding and Decompressing from Stress and Vicarious Trauma." It is the first completed course in a series called "Interpreter Health". I have given a similar 3 hour course in the form of live webinars and on-site workshops, but this course has added material and resources.

At times, every interpreter feels physically and emotionally overwhelmed from the demands of our unique profession. This course will help you get a better understanding of why stress and vicarious trauma affects us and how to manage its effects. Students will explore the dynamics of vicarious trauma that can arise during interpreting and be guided in decompression techniques. Preventive techniques, the first defense for dealing with stress and vicarious trauma, are explored. Proactive approaches to maintaining emotional and mental balance can be utilized by the interpreter for managing the impact of stress. A section of the training specifically addresses different methods helpful for decompressing following an emotionally triggering assignment.

To take the course, you will log into Interpretek's website to view the' video talks, read the assigned articles linked for your convenience, and complete self-checks to monitor your understanding and get the learning objectives.

Subscription length: 3 months
Cost: $50
Optional 0.5 CEUs: $10

Interpretek is an approved sponsor for continuing education activities. This program has been approved for 0.5 Professional Studies CEUs.

Interpretek's write-up about me: "As one of the nation's leading authorities on interpreter self-care, Dr. Gross is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and licensed acupuncturist. With decades of experience as a certified sign language interpreter, she actively treats patients and is a regular contributor to RID's VIEWS. She is also the author of Sign Safely, Interpret Intelligently: A Guide to the Prevention and Management of Interpreting-Related Injury and The Art of Personal Alchemy: Transform Your Emotional Lead Into Gold."

Use the code HEALTHY for 20% off through 7/31.

Click here to subscribe:

NOTE: This course may not be provide for CEUs for those who have the webinar or live version since it has the same name and addresses the same topic. Check with the sponsor or RID.

Keep those brain cells growing![TED Talk: You can grow new brain cells: Here's how  by Sandrine Thuret. Picture of Thure...

Keep those brain cells growing!

[TED Talk: You can grow new brain cells: Here's how by Sandrine Thuret. Picture of Thuret, a white-presenting woman with dark hair pulled back in a pony tail, wearing a black sleeveless, V-necked tank top. Blue background.]

One of our most popular talks this year!

Easy ways to grow new brain cells -- even as an adult:


Important for interpreters (and, well, everyone) to know. Practice stress reduction on a regular basis.
[Video description below]

This #FinalsWeek, remember to breathe:

TerpHealth: Prevention and Management of Interpreting Related Injury

Important to remember...and do.

Sometimes when I ask an interpreter, "What do you do for fun?", their eyes glaze over. ;-) But seriously, interpreters can sometimes forget to balance work and other aspects of life - like having FUN! Most interpreters I know work too doggone hard and for too many hours in a day/week. Sometimes they work extra hours to upgrade their lifestyle - but never have time to enjoy the benifits. It reminds me of story of the businessman who happened on an islander who was making beautiful hand-woven baskets on the stoop off his beachfront shack. The businessman said "These are stunning! Why don't you let me help you sell them to people on the mainland? "Why?" asked the weaver. "We could make a lot of money!" was the reply. "Why do I need more money?" asked the weaver. "Because if you worked really hard for the next twenty years and made enough money, then you could retire and do whatever you want!". The weaver looked around at the beach and ocean, breathed in the clean, fresh see air and replied, "I'm doing what I want now!. Why slave for 20 years when I can enjoy it now?".

Certainly it's important to work so that we can earn a good living, have the financial wherewithal to do the things we want, as well as to contribute our skills and gifts to our community. But it is also important to do so with balance in order to avoid burnout! Burnouts increases the risk of injury.

Making time for fun in your life does affect your health as an interpreter, and helps reduce overall risk of injury. How?

1. It serves as a powerful antidote to stress and pain.

2. It quickly brings your mind and body back into balance.

3. It supports both physical and emotional health by helping you stay grounded, focused, and alert.

4. It helps connect you to others, enhances your relationships and therefore reduces stress inducing chemicals and hormones that may contribute to pain.

5. A good laugh relaxes your muscles for up to 45 minutes and decreases stress hormones.

6. It improves your immune system by increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.

7. It triggers a release of endorphins which can help temporarily relieve pain.

8. Laughter improves blood circulation.



This is so true for interpreters. If you don't take the time and make the choices necessary to care for your physical AND emotional health NOW, you will have to spend a lot more time later dealing with exacerbations of those very same issues. The choices you make now can go a long way to help prevent pain, illness and emotional distress, as well as to heal existing issues.

TerpHealth: Prevention and Management of Interpreting Related Injury

Important words to heed.

A reminder about self-care:

Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It is the most professional , responsible and compassionate choice. It allows you to not only take care of yourself, but also ensures that you have the physical and emotional resources to share your talents and gifts with others. It allows you to physically be able to provide quality interpreting services over a longer period of time. Putting self-care first is no more selfish than putting on your oxygen mask first on an airplane in the event of an emergency. They tell you to put in on first so that you CAN assist others as needed. If you didn't put yours on first, you wouldn't be able to help others because you would end up in distress yourself.

Imagine running a full marathon at the pace of a sprint. You wouldn't be able to finish, and would likely hurt yourself. Interpreting is like running a marathon. If you keep an unreasonable schedule, interpret assignments alone that should be teamed, accept assignments you know you should turn down because your body is screaming for rest - but nobody else is available and you feel guilty saying "no" - then you run the risk of exhausting yourself. This can actually limit the time and quality of the services you are able to provide. In the long-run it serves nobody for you to overextend yourself.

Putting self-care first is an act of healthy self-regard, but it also is a sound professional choice. It also demands that we do the powerful work of letting-go of any residual co-dependent or "savior" attitudes and behaviors. It pushes us toward a healthier relationship with ourselves and with those for which we provide services.

To make self-care your top priority is not selfish. It's like what you do if the oxygen mask drops down on an airplane. You are told to put your own on first. This enables you to be conscious and able to help others should they need it.

Self care is an act of healthy love for yourself, but it also enables you to build and maintain the resources you need to provide the services that you do. It benefits no one for you to injure yourself.

Sometimes interpreters get caught up in trying to fit every interpreting request they can into their schedule. It can feel like there is pressure to make sure that every request is satisfied...every time. But that is a sure road to injury. And it compromises your potential to continue to provide quality services in the future due to overuse injury. Do not sacrifice your body on the altar of interpreting. Build time into your schedule to allow your body time to heal if that is what it needs. Taking care of your body is a primary professional responsibility.

Self-care in order to decompress from stressful emotions triggered by an interpreting assignment is vital in order maintain balance and remain emotionally and physically healthy.

It's essential to acknowledge and recognize physical limitations. If you are struggling with an injury or symptoms, for example, it is important to communicate about any necessary accommodations you might need. Not doing so will often lead to exacerbated symptoms.

Phone checking and 'cognitive failures' -- a word to the wise interpreter.
Why constantly checking your phone is probably scrambling your brain

Phone checking and 'cognitive failures' -- a word to the wise interpreter.

Whether sitting on a train or having dinner at a restaurant, many people find it hard to stop fiddling with their mobile phones – firing off a never-ending stream of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts.

TerpHealth:  Prevention and Management of Interpreting Related Injury

TerpHealth: Prevention and Management of Interpreting Related Injury

TerpHealth: Prevention and Management of Interpreting Related Injury

TerpHealth: Prevention and Management of Interpreting Related Injury

Sometimes I see interpreters interpreting with little or no movement of their upper arms. Often the interpreter is trying to minimize muscle effort. The problem is that this really backfires. It is not the fewest muscle groups that are used that is safest, but rather the more muscle groups that share the work and effort.

In addition to overly taxing the few muscles groups that are used when the upper arm is not engaged, it also causes a couple of other problems, including:

- a hyper-mobility of the hand/wrist area. Since the upper arm is not moving the wrist has to move more.

- the elbow becomes the pivot for movement. This creates a lot of stress on the elbow.

- it creates more upper body tension. Try touching your ribs with your elbows and feel the tension in the shoulders and upper arms, then simply relax the elbows so they are no longer touching your ribs and notice how your entire upper body relaxes!

- it causes you to interpret too close to your chest, which increases tension in the upper body.

TerpHealth: Prevention and Management of Interpreting Related Injury

TerpHealth: Prevention and Management of Interpreting Related Injury

Have you ever seen the bumper stickers that say "Whoever has the most toys when they die wins"? I often see interpreters approach their schedule as though this were their truth about the number of hours they interpret. I think it is a tempting trap to fall into, especially for a self-employed interpreter.

Building breaks into your schedule is an important strategy in preventing injury. Rest time is an essential part of your body's ability to recover and heal from the demands of interpreting. Your body repairs and strengthens itself during rest time, and continuous interpreting can overly tax and weaken your muscles.

Rest enables your body to replenish depleted energy stores and repair damaged tissues. Without adequate rest time your body will continue to break down. This will lead to injury.

Rest time is important for physiological AND psychological reasons. Rest is physically necessary so that the muscles can repair, rebuild and strengthen. It is also essential in order to maintain balance and perspective in your life.

I encourage you to make sure you build short and long breaks into your interpreting schedule. If breaks are already included in your schedule (such as in a VRS environment) - TAKE them! I have seen many, many interpreters pass up their break times because _______________ (fill in the blank). But, as I have said before, self-care is a vital aspect of professionalism.

Avoid filling your breaks with other activities that also tax your muscles and body. For example, I often see interpreters fill their breaks with texting, keyboarding, surfing the internet, knitting, etc. These are not rests.

Schedule your breaks responsibly, of course. If you are interpreting at a conference or dinner, for example, it's not professional for both you and your team interpreter to just leave the Deaf consumers to fend for their own communication needs. Those times can be vital opportunities for attendees to network, ask questions and participate socially. Making sure your stagger your breaks with your team partner is a way to get needed breaks as well as fulfill your interpreting responsibilities.

Your interpreting career is a marathon, not a sprint. Trying to sprint an entire marathon will inevitably cause injury and prevent completion of the race. I encourage you to build rest and recovery time into your life.

TerpHealth: Prevention and Management of Interpreting Related Injury

Professional and personal responsibility....

If you are a VI, I encourage you to take your breaks!

* Self-care is your first professional and personal responsibility. You can't continue to give from an empty vessel.

* Your interpreting career is a more like a marathon than a sprint. You have to remember you are in this for the long haul. Make sure you don't spend yourself too early.

* Don't be a martyr. That doesn't serve anybody in the long run.

* Taking your breaks allows you to refresh your mind and body so that you are able to continue to do your work with quality and safety.

* Have enough respect for your colleagues to know they have the ability to take the call and interpret it with skill and finesse.

For help with sleep: In addition to using f.lux if you are online or looking at a screen after sundown (and even if you'...
Solar Shield Fits-Over Sunglasses - SS Polycarbonate II Amber / SOLAR SHIELD II AMBER...

For help with sleep: In addition to using f.lux if you are online or looking at a screen after sundown (and even if you're not), one thing that makes a huge difference in your body's ability to produce melatonin to allow you to get to sleep is blue light-blocking goggles. Solar Shield Amber Goggles or Uvex are two brands that do this. The amber goggles are darker and fit over glasses. The Uvex glasses are yellow and do not fit over glasses. Wearing them anytime your eyes are exposed to artificial light (any regular lighting, refrigerator light at night, etc.) after sundown makes all the difference in signaling your pineal gland that it's time to start producing melatonin, which takes a few hours to build up. Highly recommended! and

Solar Shield II polycarbonate Amber fit-overs are ideal for individuals with cataracts. Each lightweight, impact-resistant polycarbonate lens ensures 100% UVA/UVB protection & exceeds the strictest UV blocking requirements (ANSI Z80.3-1996). SIZE: 50-15-125mm

Good tip to adjust your body to the time change.  And if you don't already have it, also good to install f.lux on your c...
Daylight Savings Time: 7 Surprising Things You May Not Know

Good tip to adjust your body to the time change. And if you don't already have it, also good to install f.lux on your computer to adjust its color when the sun goes down - and it's free!

Our annual clock fiddling leads to fewer robberies and more unhappy farmers, for starters.

TerpHealth: Prevention and Management of Interpreting Related Injury

A practice to remember; important to do.

I am seeing an increasing number of patients in my practice who are experiencing significant neck and shoulder (trapezius) pain. This often is a result of the physical stress of looking down too much while reading, using IPads and working on laptops. When the neck and shoulders has to support the full weight of the head (an average of 12 pounds) for extended periods, the muscles become fatigued and begin to tighten and/or spasm. If you find you are using some of these devises, or reading for more than a few minutes at a time, make sure you use props to bring them to eye level. When I am sitting on my couch and reading or using my IPad, I put pillows on my lap to elevate them so that I don't stress my neck and shoulders. And sometimes, just sometimes, the wise thing to do is to simply put the book/computer/phone/ipad aside and do something else.


Takoma Park, MD



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