Clinical Interviewing /John Sommers-Flanagan and Rita Sommers-Flanagan. — 3rd ed.
I advise teachers to cherish mother-wit. I assume that you will keep the grammar, writing, reading, and arithmetic in order; ’tis easy, and of course you will. But smuggle in a little contraband wit, fancy, imagination, thought.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Selected Prose and Poetry
In the following pages, we aim to take Emerson’s advice. This text is a serious examination of clinical interviewing as a professional activity; it includes the “grammar, writing, reading, and arithmetic” of professional interviewing. But in the spirit of Emerson, we have also smuggled in some contraband, and we encourage you to do the same.
For our part, we include occasional humor, the practical application of fantasy through skill-building activities, and stories of our own and our colleagues’ pitfalls and successes. For your part, we hope you learn clinical interviewing with all the seriousness that an enterprise dedicated to evaluating and helping people who come to you in emotional pain and distress deserves.
We also hope you will smuggle a little contraband into the learning process. In particular, we hope the contraband you smuggle in is yourself. Clinical interviewing is a practical, hands-on activity. It’s hard to imagine learning to sit with, listen to, evaluate, and provide professional help to another human being simply by reading a book.
Nevertheless, that’s exactly the purpose of this book. We hope that by reading it—in combination with classroom activities, practicum or pre-practicum experiences, and feedback from peers and supervisors—budding mental health professionals will learn the art and science, the intimacy and objectivity of clinical interviewing.
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