Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Clinical Psychology Competencies

pp 181-208

Clinical Interviewing with Adults

  • Julie N. Hook·Affiliated withRush University Medical Center
  • , Elise K. HodgesAffiliated withUniversity of Michigan Medical Center
  • , Daniel L. SegalAffiliated withUniversity of Colorado
  • , Frederick L. CoolidgeAffiliated withUniversity of Colorado


Clinical interviewing with adults can be a complex and challenging process, particularly for the beginning clinician. In this chapter, we break down clinical interviewing skills into understandable steps and illustrate our points with a number of examples. In the initial considerations section, we help set the stage for starting the interview through a discussion of establishing rapport and goal setting, professionalism, and setting up the physical environment for the interview. We then review basic competencies or the fundamentals of the interview process, including opening and closing the interview, selection of questions and questions to avoid, paraphrasing, observing and listening to the patient, and self-awareness. Lastly we offer a review of expert competencies, which are aspects of the interview that are often more difficult to master. These topics include areas such as rhythm and timing of the commentary during the interview, prioritizing aspects of the interview, transference and counter transference, confrontation and interpretative remarks, dealing with difficult patients, and interviewing patients with diverse backgrounds. In all, this chapter provides a road map to help novice interviewers embark on their first interviews and offers guidance for the more skilled clinicians to hone and refine their skills.