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The psychiatric interview is conducted with the purpose of understanding and treating a patient experiencing emotional difficulties or a psychiatric illness. Most patients seek treatment voluntarily; however, many psychiatric symptoms involve unconscious psychological conflicts. To the extent that the patient defends his or herself from awareness of these conflicts, he or she will also conceal them from the interviewer.

The clinician’s training in psychodynamics, major clinical syndromes, and personality types will help the clinician understand characteristic interview behavior and accurately assess a patient’s symptoms, personality and psychological functioning. As long as the patient views the clinician as a potential source of help, the patient will communicate freely any material that he or she feels may be pertinent to his or her difficulty. This process is facilitated by the confidentiality of the clinician-patient relationship.

Essential References on the Psychiatric Interview

American Psychiatric Publishing (APPI), a division of the American Psychiatric Association, publishes clinical manuals on the principles and techniques of obtaining information from adult, as well as child and adolescent, patients, and formulating this information into a program of care.

Improving Mental Health Care: A Guide to Measurement-Based Quality Improvement

Clinical Manual for the Psychiatric Interview of Children and Adolescents offers a comprehensive and practical guide to the child and adolescent psychiatric interview, including new chapters on diagnostic and therapeutic engagement, special interviewing techniques, family assessment, post evaluation feedback, and the evaluation of special populations such as displaced or refugee children.


The Psychiatric Interview for Clinical Practice

The Psychiatric Interview for Clinical Practice addresses the challenges inherent in clinical interviewing, including the complexities of defense mechanisms, conflicts, wishes, and fantasies, while providing interview strategies for a new era of psychiatry.


Laboratory Medicine in Psychiatry and Behavioral Science

Laboratory Medicine in Psychiatry and Behavioral Science is a reference guide to 168 laboratory tests and 124 diseases. The book explains current concepts and practices in this complex and changing field, including the tests that need to be performed before a new medication is initiated and the monitoring required.


View a complete list of books relating to psychiatric interviewing.