Department of General… Research Research areas Help for helpers

Help for helpers - EMDR intervention for interpreters in refugee care after secondary traumatisation:

a randomised controlled trial


Caregivers in refugee care are often confronted with reports of stressful experiences that refugees have had in the course of their flight. Empathic understanding when listening to reports of traumatic experiences creates a vivid imagination and somatic co-experience of the traumatic event in the listener without being directly affected. This can be a considerable burden for the listener, especially if it is repeated frequently. After a so-called "secondary traumatization", i.e. the indirect experience of a traumatic event, symptoms similar to those of post-traumatic stress disorder can develop, which include hyperarousal, avoidance behaviour and intrusive re-experiencing, for example through imposing images or dreams. This can affect interpreters, caregivers of traumatized patients or first responders, among others. Interpreters also play an essential role in the care of refugees, as there are often language barriers that need to be overcome in order to provide adequate care.

In this study, the effectiveness of an established, effective procedure from trauma therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)) for the treatment of symptoms of secondary traumatization is to be evaluated in burdened interpreters.

Project management

Working group:
apl. Prof. Dr med. Nikendei

Funded by: Rahel Goitein-Straus Programme