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The Clinical Interview.docx

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Carleton University
PSYC 3403
John Weekes

The clinical interview  The clinical interview can be characterized as “a conversation with a purpose”. The difference between a conversation and a clinical interview  A conversation has no central theme, the participant’s rules are not usually defined, and a conversation starts and ends at will.  An interview, however, is directed towards achieving a specific purpose. There are defined roles between participants and an interview occurs at a predefined place and time.  It is important to remember that a clinical interview is not a cross- examination, but rather a process during which the interviewer must be aware of the client’s voice intonations, rate of speech, as well non-verbal messages such as facial expression, posture, gestures.  However, it is possible to misinterpret these nonverbal cues when interviewer and clients do not come from the same culture. John demonstrated this in class with an anecdote about how he misinterpreted the body language of a Native man he was treating. John mistook his lack of eye contact as a sign of defiance, when, in Native society, it is considered a sign of respect to not look your elders directly in the eyes.  Interviews are often used as the sole method of assessment. However, the clinical interview is most often used alongside other assessment tools such as the Alcohol Dependence Scale, etc.  The clinical interview serves as the basic context for almost all other psychological assessments and it is the most widely used clinical assessment method. Advantages of the clinical interview  It’s inexpensive  It Taps both verbal and nonverbal behavior  It’s Portable  It’s Flexible  It facilitates the building of a therapeutic relationship, the goal of which, is to build rapport, trust—a therapeutic alliance. The client must feel comfortable sharing things that he has never shared with anyone ever before. Characteristics of good interviewing skills  It is important to convey to the interviewee that you understand their feelings and attitudes.  Use open-ended rather than close-ended questions in order to extract more information.  Use language that is understandable and not offensive.  Avoid excessive talking about personal experiences during the interview  Allow the interviewee to use silences in the conversation for reflection. Don’t try to fill awkward pauses with mindless chatter. Components of good listening  Eliminate distractions  You want to be alert  You want to be able to concentrate  You need patience  You need to be open minded Therapist behaviors that affect the interview  Timing  Jargon—Don’t use it  Empathy (you can never have a friendship with a client)  Self-disclosure—don’t do it  Humor—have a sense of Components of good listening  Eliminate distractions  Be alert  Concentrate  Have patience  Be open minded Therapist behaviors that affect interviews  Good timing  Jargon—don’t use it  Be empathetic  Minimize self-disclosure (talking about yourself)  Humor—have a sense of Important interview dimensions Structured vs. unstructured Are you following a script? Are you not following a script? Are you using a little of both? Treatment relevance vs. treatment irrelevance Questions you ask should be relevant towards finding the right treatment. Temporal (past vs. present) Are you going to focus on the past or present? Typically, interviews should focus on the present. Formality vs. informality This refers to whether you take a more formal or less formal approach. Medical vs. non-medical Does the interview have more or less of a medical orientation? Information seeking vs. information giving Are you seeking information from the client or are you giving information to the client? Rationale for discussing therapeutic interview in class:  The clinical interview is a precursor to our discussion of motivational interviewing  The clinical interview is rooted in the rejection of the confrontational approach (hotseating). Better than having others confront the client is to create a clinical environment that causes the client to confront himself.  The clinical interview draws from established approaches used by trained clinical psychologists.  Clinical
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