Psychiatric Interviewing: The Art of Understanding

Psychiatric Interviewing: The Art of Understanding

Psychiatric Interviewing: The Art of Understanding

Psychiatric Interviewing: The Art of Understanding


The 2nd edition of this clinically based guidebook that focuses on the initial psychiatric interview provides practical suggestions for analyzing and altering the interview to mesh with the specific needs of the patient. Contains detailed discussions of how to open an interview, how to interpret nonverbal communication, how to make more natural transitions, and how to arrive at accurate diagnoses. Offers special techniques for eliciting information from depressed, psychotic, and personality-disordered patients. This edition presents updated DSM-IV criteria, new strategies in suicide assessment, and an annotated interview section accompanied by sample write-ups with tips in the appendix. Spanish version also available, ISBN: 84-8174-596-0


The purpose of life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others. Only then have we ourselves become true human beings.

Albert Schweitzer, M.D.

It is with true pleasure that I sit down to write the Preface for the second edition. Much has changed in our field of mental health since the book first appeared 10 years ago—some of it good and some of it not so good. My pleasure arises from the fact that the cornerstone principles of the first edition—sensitivity and compassion—still resonate in our field today; in fact, in the age of managed care and tight time constraints, they may play an even more important role as guideposts than before.

One of my biggest pleasures over the past 10 years has been the warm reception given to the system of "facilics," introduced in the first edition. Facilics has been adopted as a core component of graduate training programs across disciplines—from masters' programs in counseling and social work to psychiatric residencies. For those not familiar with it, facilics is an approach for understanding how we, as front-line clinicians, can most sensitively structure our interviews and effectively manage time constraints during the initial assessment. An innovative aspect of the facilic system is an easily learned system of schematics for supervisors to utilize while tracking the structuring and engagement strategies of the clinician. These schematics function as a supervisory shorthand and provide a direct visual platform for individual supervision and class discussion. Although developed long before the pressures of managed care, facilics has proved to be a popular method for allowing clinicians and supervisors to discover new ways of sensitively handling those very same pressures. For these reasons once again, in the second edition, facilics has been highlighted.

I have tried to keep intact whatever elements of the book that reader feedback has suggested were most effective. Indeed, other than updates to the DSM-IV, most of the chapters have relatively minor changes. On the other hand, Chapter 8 on suicide and violence assessment has been greatly expanded and introduces a new system for eliciting suicidal ideation, which I hope you will . . .

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