The Benefits of Supervision

Do you find yourself going above and beyond with some clients?

Do you find it difficult to switch off from work?

Do you ever worry that you may have ‘stepped out of role’?

Do you feel isolated or unsupported?


The majority of sign language interpreters work as freelance practitioners and often work in isolation with limited opportunities to talk about their work, as such interpreters often rely on close friends and colleagues for support. The people they turn to may not understand the work, or may find it difficult to challenge as they do not want to risk upsetting or hurting someone they are close to. It is also common for Interpreters to talk about dilemmas rather than explore issues that arise in their day to day practice.

Interpreting assignments can be highly emotional, and witnessing the distress of others can be distressing for interpreters. Interpreters may also witness discrimination and poor service provision, which can result in conflicting emotions; interpreters may feel a sense of responsibility to “act” while simultaneously experiencing a sense of powerlessness.

Supervision is an opportunity to explore work related issues, dilemmas and decisions made in the course of the working day with the guidance and support of a Supervisor.  It is an opportunity to take a step back and consider not only practice issues, but also their responses to the work. Interpreting can be emotionally demanding and an understanding of our responses can both increase resilience and help us provide the best service we can to those we work with. Supervision also provides interpreters with an opportunity to recognise their personal and professional limits and gain a better understanding of how they work. This enables them to make informed choices about the work they undertake, protecting both themselves and those they work with.


“The nature of our role, dealing with people and their language is more faceted than ‘just’ interpreting appears on the surface. The more I explore my practice in supervision, the more it holds a mirror up to myself”.