Mothertongue multi-ethnic counselling service will be closing in March 2018

We wish to communicate that Mothertongue multi-ethnic counselling service has taken the decision to complete its work in 2018. Over the past 17 years we have supported over 3,000 clients and it is now time for others to develop the work.

Mothertongue multi-ethnic counselling service will cease seeing clients in December 2017. We will not be starting a new course of counselling with any client from September 15th 2017. Any new clients should be referred on to Talking Therapies Berkshire at

In accordance with data protection legislation, we will not be retaining any personal data on anyone who has used our services after we close. Client notes will be retained until February 1st 2018. Should you wish to request copies of your notes before January 31st 2018, please refer to our Data Protection Policy and Confidentiality Policy in the Downloads section and contact our office at 22-24 Cross Street, Reading RG1 1SN.
We are grateful to all those who have supported us with time, work, finances, care and commitment over the years.
Many of our interventions have been small but they have had a big impact on the quality of people's lives.

The learning and the knowledge achieved through the work of Mothertongue will continue to be disseminated by a new NGO called Pasalo CIC

Beverley Costa | CEO and Clinical Director of Mothertongue


A Selection of Videos of interest to Mothertongue.

Therapists and Interpreters working effectively together.

The number of people in Britain whose first language is not English is growing.

What is the impact of this for organisations which provide mental health interventions and support?

We know that to meet our clients where they are, we need to be able to speak a common language. Where possible it may be advantageous to have access to bi- and tri- lingual clinicians so that clients can express themselves directly in their own languages. However, with the growing range of language needs, this is not always possible.

Traditionally clinical work and psychotherapy is conducted between two people and the idea of incorporating a third person into the therapeutic relationship can be unsettling.

We have listened to therapists and interpreters who have described situations when they have had no training in working together. They have expressed concerns and anxieties about the thought of working together or experiences they have already had.

Scenarios which motivated us to make this training DVD have been incorporated into this resource.

Supervision of Interpreters

The experience of interpreters taking part in supervision.

Interpreters often hear and relay distressing and heart-rending stories. How they do so can make a critical difference to clients' lives. They manage pressure, which comes from all participants in the interpreter-mediated encounter. But they have few outlets for the emotional impact this can have on them. This is why regular clinical supervision for all interpreters who work in sensitive contexts is a necessity and not a luxury.

This film gives a space to interpreters to share their experiences of supervision groups and why they prioritise them despite many other competing claims on their time.

Although it can be difficult to find the space and the time to offer this support, if interpreters are left unsupported the consequences can be burnout and disconnection. We need to support the supporters if we are to provide the best possible environments for our clients to access the help they need, to heal and to thrive.

Suggested reading about interpreting, training and supervision:
Boyles, J. (2017) Psychological therapy with torture survivors in exile; a human rights approach. PCCS Books.
Boyles, J. & Talbot, N. (2017) Working with Interpreters in Psychological Therapy. London: Routledge
Costa, B. (2011) Managing the demands of mental health interpreting: why training, supervision and support are not luxuries, ITI Bulletin, March 2011
Costa, B. (2017) Team Effort – training therapists to work with interpreters as a collaborative team International Journal for Counselling Development. 39(1): pp 1-14 · December 2016
Hetherington, A. (2012) Supervision and the interpreting profession: Support and accountability through reflective practice. International Journal of Interpreter Education.4:1, 46-57.

Support for Children using their interpreting skills

The purpose of the DVD is to give professionals some tips and learning points to support a child who is helping with the language in a meeting. By making the meetings a positive experience, children can continue to feel proud of themselves and to feel useful to their families. Many professionals seldom encounter children in this role and/or they have not had specific training. It can be easy to forget that the child is not a trained professional interpreter who is able to take on all the information they receive and relay this to the parent.
The DVD aims to show in four scenarios what stresses and anxieties the child is feeling and as a result how the transmission of information can be affected. It is hoped that the learning points will help professionals think about these factors when a child is using their interpreting skills for a parent or family member.

Working effectively with an interpreter via Skype

It is not always possible to source an interpreter locally with the necessary language. It can be very time consuming and costly to bring in interpreters from far afield. In the interests of responding to this problem creatively, we have explored the possibilities of offering interpreting for therapeutic interventions by Skype and of training clinicians and interpreters to collaborate together via Skype. We had trialled mental health interpreting via the telephone. We found that because of the nature of mental health consultations, the dual disadvantages of remoteness and of having no visual communication between the three parties challenged the effectiveness of meaningful clinical interventions. This training video considers some of the problems and possible solutions to interpreter-mediated Skype mental health interventions.

Colleagues Across Borders

In 2013 we set up a project, Colleagues Across Borders, to exchange ideas, knowledge and experience of working therapeutically with people traumatised by what war, torture and exile had thrown at them. Senior psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and counsellors, from Mothertongue and elsewhere in the UK and New Zealand, worked pro bono via Skype, to support refugees who have trained as psychosocial workers in Refugee Support NGOs in refugee camps and urban settings in the Middle East. These psychosocial workers support asylum seekers and refugees locally with desperate situations.