chapter  12
Risk assessment: specialist interviewing skills for forensic practitioners
Pages 34

In mental health settings, clinical interviews are the principal point of contact between clients and the various practitioners involved in their care (Craig, 2005; MacKinnon, Michels and Buckley, 2009; Morrison, 2008; Shea, 1998). In the course of clinical interviews, the client’s problematic personal characteristics and situational factors – such as their mental health needs, their relationships with others, their current circumstances and developmental infl uences – are discussed. The ultimate purpose of such an engagement and any subsequent similar meetings is to understand and then do something positive to address the needs identifi ed. Therapeutic progress is encouraged through the practitioner’s application of a sophisticated framework of information giving and enquiry, empathy and the nurturance of change, evaluation and refl ection. The structure and component parts of this framework are – or should be – almost imperceptible to the client, and the client’s participation in the encounter is largely being controlled by the practitioner in order to ensure that the time spent together is used in the most effi cient way to promote the gradual relief of distress. Where clinical interviews fail to result in the hoped-for change, client ambivalence or lack of motivation may be to blame. However, a lack of skill on the part of the practitioner in the application of appropriate assessment and therapeutic techniques may also play a part, as could defi ciencies in the conduct of the clinical interview itself. Practitioners, therefore, must attend not only to the motivation of their clients to engage and to their assessment and therapeutic skills, but also to those relating to the highly sophisticated task of clinical interviewing. Clinical interviewing skills are the focus of this chapter.