The Biopsychosocial-Spiritual Interview Method
Conducting an initial interview can be a challenging task even for the seasoned mental health professional. Initial interviews are typically time limited. The objective is to get to know as much as possible about the client/patient in a short period of time, while effectively joining and communicating empathy. To support the acquisition of a comprehensive patient/family profile, the authors have taken the biopsychosocial ideas of Engel (1977, 1980) and combined them with attentiveness to spirituality (Wright, Watson, & Bell, 1996) to form the Biopsychosocial-Spiritual (BPSS) Interview method. The BPSS interview consists of questions regarding the client/patient’s physical symptoms, diagnosis, and medical treatment (Biomedical aspect); the thoughts, feelings, and state of mental health associated with the illness/treatment (Psychological aspect); the sources of support and relationship to and with others (Social/Environmental aspect); and the client/patient’s system of beliefs (Spiritual aspect). This method can help professionals gain insight as to how the client/patient physically and emotionally copes with the illness, as well as the support systems that are available to him or her. Using this method with the family members of the identified patient also helps in the assessment of resources and support, and the impact that the illness has on the family system. Please note that from this point on, the term patient is synonymous with client and refers to the person(s) receiving services. Rationale for Use
As McDaniel, Hepworth, and Doherty wrote in their groundbreaking 1992 text titled, Medical Family Therapy: A Biopsychosocial Approach to Families with Health Problems:
The days of innocence are over. We now know that human life is a seamless cloth spun from biological, psychological, social, and cultural threads; that patients and families come with bodies as well as minds, feelings, interaction patterns, and belief system; that there are no biological problems without psychosocial implications, and no psychosocial problems without biological implications. Like it or not, therapists are dealing with biological problems, and physicians are dealing with psychosocial problems. The only choice is whether to do integrated treatment well or do it poorly. (pp. 1-2)
Therefore, as family therapists gain secondary, and tertiary care settings, being armed with a structured comprehensive interview method is imperative to their work.