Module 301-4

Working with Interpreters in mental health


This module aims to provide essential knowledge and practical skills to help clinicians work more effectively with interpreters in a mental health context. 

Key topics include about interpreters, language assessment, pre-briefing interpreters, structuring a session, debriefing interpreters, and addressing common interpreting issues 

Dependent on your level of awareness of working with interpreters in a mental health context you may or may not need to take this module. We have created a short quiz for you to self assess if you need to take up this module. We strongly recommend taking the short quiz before enrolling.

Take the pre-assessment quiz for 301-4

Key topics covered in this module

The following key topics are covered:

  • About interpreters
  • Language assessment 
  • Pre-briefing interpreters
  • Structuring a session
  • Debriefing interpreters
  • Addressing common interpreting issues


Learning outcomes for this module

At the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • understand more about competencies and services delivered by interpreters
  • know when, and when not to engage an interpreter
  • conduct a pre-brief and a debrief with an interpreter
  • know how to structure a session with an interpreter and a client, and when using a digital device
  • recognise and address common interpreting issues in a session.

About the other modules in this programme

  • 301-1 Pre-requisites for CALD practice
    • Cultural competence in New Zealand
    • Cultural competence in mental health
    • Cultural awareness
      • Cultural constructs
      • Cultural dimensions
    • Cultural sensitivity
    • Cultural knowledge
      • Acculturation
      • Intergenerational issues
      • Sensitive issues
    • Skills development
      • Checklist for CALD engagement
      • Case vignette
  • 301-2 Assessment and Diagnosis
    • Cultural variations
      • CALD engagement
      • Expression of distress
      • Explanatory models
    • Assessment
      • Screening
      • MSE
      • Suicide risk
    • Diagnostic issues
      • Risk of misdiagnosis
      • Personality disorders
      • Cultural formulation
      • CALD Assessment Tool
      • Developing a formulation
  • 301-3 Treating cross-culturally
    • Modalities for intervention
    • Ethnopsychopharmacology
    • Ethnocultural transference
    • Collaboration in intervention
    • An integrative treatment plan
    • Seeking collegial input

Overall aim of the full training programme

The training programme is designed to:

  • facilitate the acquisition of knowledge, the development of awareness and sensitivity to cultural factors, and provide opportunities to apply these as skills in practice.
  • fill the gap between theory and practice: there is a proliferation of papers and discussion on cultural competence in the literature and internet, but very little to guide the application of cultural competence learning in a practical way.

Target audience

This programme is recommended for clinicians working with CALD clients in the field of psychiatry and psychology in the New Zealand health system.


E-Learning online self-paced learning = 2 hours.

Working with Interpreters in mental health

Working with Interpreters in mental health

Online course

This module is available as a self guided 2 hour online course.


A revision of best practice and relevant to my work.

This is very relevant to my work as we often use interpreters. The revision of ‘best practice’ along with some fresh ideas was engaging.

Mental health nurse

Added to my awareness and my ability to focus on the rather complex interpreting process.

We have excellent and valuable assets in the form of our interpreters. This module has added to my awareness by focusing attention on this, and provoking some thought on the rather complex process involved. I know it can be quite a revelation when working in this way - suddenly seeing the hidden layers to a story, and being part of uncovering these.


Well structured, clear, informative and presented interesting aspects of interpreting.

Very clear information and interesting aspects of interpreting revealed. Well structured, written and presented – very clear.


Very good, practical and knowledgeable module for clinicians.

Very good, practical and knowledgeable module for clinicians. This module is the only source of information available to clinicians about interpreters. Nobody knows what it takes to train interpreters, what to expect and how to navigate the use of interpreters. This module would significantly improve clinical engagement and outcomes especially if taught in final year of medical school or to trainee interns. As this info is applicable across medical specialities.


The online tool is easy to navigate, interactive and engaging

The online tool is easy to navigate, interactive and engaging.