Dealing With Defensiveness
Learning to conduct an effective interview is essential to carrying out almost any form of clinical assessment or intervention. However, the unpredictability of the interviewing process can make mastery of this skill a challenging and, at times, even discouraging task. Each client introduces unique characteristics into the interview situation, which greatly limit the therapist's ability to control the direction of the interview. The most common complication is client defensiveness, which prevents the interview from unfolding predictably and straightforwardly. Therefore, an adequate understanding of defenses is essential for competency in interviewing. If interviewers do not understand defensiveness and how to effectively respond to it, the clinical interview is likely to be, at best, frustrating and, at worst, a pointless enterprise for both participants.