A Spinning World Phd

On 17th December Lynn Learman, Service Manager of Spinning World and Palliative Care, was awarded her Doctorate in Counselling from Manchester University.

PSS Spinning World is a specialist psychological therapy service working with migrant communities who have experienced trauma. The title of Lynn’s research was ‘A DIALOGUE WITH THREE VOICES’ and looked at how working through an interpreter affects psychological therapy. Lynn interviewed 12 people involved in Spinning World who were all ‘experts by experience’, four counsellors, four interpreters and four ex-clients who could not speak English when they accessed the service through a focus group and semi-structured interviews. She says that there is very little research in this field internationally because of the problems of accessing hard to reach groups.

That’s why this kind of research can be done by PSS where our core values mean that trust and respect have been established with service users who have very little voice anywhere else. They were happy to talk about their experiences and felt free to give some constructive criticism without worrying if this would impact on their relationship with the service.

The participants talked about the specific role of the interpreter, the practitioners talked about the management of emotion, and everyone talked about differing cultures of mental health and verbal and non-verbal communication. Everyone interviewed had been changed by the experience of working in a triad:

One interpreter (Majid) said that working at Spinning World was ‘another world of interpreting’ from any other kind of interpreting job they had to do’.

“It’s not easy when the client tells you that they are going to end up killing themselves. The client takes long ‘cos they express their feelings and how they feel inside and what makes them happy and unhappy… When you come here its silent and emotional and the person can go from one mood to another.” Fatima (Interpreter)

I feel maybe if it wasn’t coming to Spinning World maybe on that day I will kill myself, because I tried to kill myself a lot of time… it was very, very amazing for me…I never see people like that… that was very, very, special. I could say that they big supported me.” Mariam (Client)

The research concludes that above all, successfully working in a therapeutic triad requires two differently skilled practitioners who both need excellent communication skills. However there are multiple layers of communication based on much more than the words we use to express ourselves. When good practice guidelines are adhered to the presence of a skilled interpreter can enhance the work and support both the therapist and the client.

“In your mind you have to accept there is a third party can help you achieve what you want to achieve… she was very kind by listening to each word I was saying and translate it to the counsellor… One day by day, session by session, the counsellor and the interpreter were close to me, they felt like my sisters… they are part of my life… I was low, very low but thank God and thanks to my therapist I am much better, I can’t forget what happened to me no. It’s there, it’s there but… I am getting a little bit emotional when I remember… I am so grateful what these woman done for me.”

Nadia (Client)

NB all participants’ names have been anonymised