Supervision: an essential part of an interpreter’s professional career

By nubsli | Published on 18 May 2017

Omoyele Thomas talks about the benefits of using professional supervision.

Have you ever finished a booking and feel like you have the weight of the world your shoulders, with nowhere to go to lighten the load? Do you find yourself talking to friends, partners and loved ones about work, but not getting what you need from these discussions, or being met with a lack of understanding? Do you feel like you are not getting the affirmation and recognition you need after you’ve had a great day? Would you like to be supportively challenged and guided to see your practice from a different perspective? If some or all of these strike a chord with you, then Professional Supervision is the right path for you.

Supervision is a mandatory part of working life for most professionals, such as doctors, nurses, social workers and so on. It ensures they are better equipped to engage with their clients, and improves their professional practice.

The majority of interpreters work on a freelance basis, so we often find ourselves with no-one to discuss the issues we face in our everyday practice with: ethical dilemmas, the challenges of specific domains, the dynamics of co-working, the needs of our clients, and our own hopes and fears. As a result, interpreters can frequently feel quite isolated.

Ultimately, the lack of opportunity to discuss and offload the complexities of interpreting can lead to burnout more quickly than you ever expected to in your career journey. Supervision is essential to ensure you practice safely, and get the support you need. It also ensures you are challenged where necessary and praised when needed. All of this contributes to promoting longevity in your career and helps to maintain a healthy mind.

The first cohort to qualify as Professional Supervisors, specifically for sign language interpreters, have provided a much needed service, and fill the gap that has existed for too long within this profession. The second cohort begin their training in March 2017, and will result in a wider availability of Supervisors across the U.K.

Supervision sessions can be accessed in a variety of ways – face to face individual supervision, Skype individual supervision (useful given the geographical spread of interpreters), and group supervision (which is always face to face). A good Professional Supervisor will offer you a ‘contracting session’, where you will be able to ask questions and decide if supervision is for you. There is usually no charge for this initial contracting session.

The Labyrinth Supervision website * provides details of Professional Supervisors, with links to individual professional websites and contact details.

Let 2017 be the year to focus on you, and take care of your professional self.


* NUBSLI encourages the use of professional supervisors but does not endorse any specific provider.