The treatment of depression and simple phobia through an interpreter in the North East of England: a case study

Layla Mofrad, Lisa Webster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


A 35-year-old Middle Eastern woman, experiencing moderate depression compounded by animal phobia was referred to an Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service. Shared understandings were gradually developed using written functional analyses translated in session. Activity scheduling was integrated with graded exposure to increase access to positive reinforcement. Questionnaires and subjective data indicated a reduction in phobic avoidance and functioning increased. Despite the complexity of working as a triad, a positive therapeutic relationship was achieved with increased mutual cultural understanding. Indirect communication led to difficulties maintaining guided discovery and focus. There is limited evidence to support CBT when delivered through an interpreter. IAPT recommendations suggest staff reflect the community; the North East has one of the lowest foreign-born populations in the UK indicating that IAPT services may be ill prepared to work with ethnic minorities. Learning points for the therapist were: maintain simplicity, take time to formulate incorporation of cultural difference, and use transcultural interventions. The interpreter brought advantages; providing means of communication and understanding of cultural differences. Disadvantages were the potential for bias or lost information, increased time and complexity of delivering therapy. This case indicates a deficit in high intensity training and lack of literature to support therapists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-111
JournalCognitive Behaviour Therapist
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • CBT
  • cognitive therapy training
  • depression
  • phobia
  • therapist competence
  • training


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