The face-to-face interview in which the professional directly collects information from the client or an individual familiar with the client constitutes the most widely used of all assessment tools. Interview-based assessments have always played a critical role in therapeutic, counseling, personnel selection, and research situations. They are particularly important, for example, in clinical settings where they are used to generate information about biographical factors, presenting problems, and responsivity considerations. That information may then be used to make decisions about the type of treatment to provide. Interviews may also be used in these settings for evaluating the progress and outcomes of therapy.
The purpose of the clinical interview varies, of course, with the context in which it is employed. In clinical settings with a psychodynamic focus the concern will generally be with use of the interview for diagnosing underlying psychological disturbances, whereas more behaviorally oriented clinicians would be concerned with using the interview to identify dysfunctional overt behaviors that might serve as targets for change. The interview is also widely used in efforts to evaluate levels of risk for antisocial or dangerous behaviors. Workers in youth justice systems, for example, are often called on to provide assessments of a youth's risk for violent criminal acts and these assessments are more often than not based on interview information. Finally, professionals in vocational guidance and human resource settings will employ the interview to evaluate an individual's interests and aptitudes relevant to career paths or particular jobs.
Conducting interviews with adolescents often presents special challenges for the mental health professional. Young people sometimes approach these sessions with suspicious, hostile, or indifferent attitudes, and