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Clinical Interviewing, 4th Edition

ISBN: 978-0-470-46735-0
504 pages
January 2009
Clinical Interviewing, 4th Edition (0470467355) cover image


The Fourth Edition of the classic Clinical Interviewing by John and Rita Sommers-Flanagan reflects current research in the field as well as an important expansion of multicultural content throughout. Fully revised, this invaluable text will help you sharpen your counseling skills with thoughtful insight into critical interviewing techniques that will result in more effective and compassionate therapy. Complete with real-world case examples, this essential guide equips you to master the skills necessary in mental health interviewing.
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Table of Contents


Part One: Becoming a Mental Health Professional.

Chapter 1 Introduction: Philosophy and Organization.

Welcome to the Journey.

Theoretical Orientations.

Basic Requirements for Clinical Interviewers.

Goals and Objectives of This Book.


Suggested Readings and Resources.

Chapter 2 Foundations and Preparations.

Defining Clinical Interviewing.


The Physical Setting.

Professional and Ethical Issues.


Suggested Readings and Resources.

Part Two: Listening and Relationship Development.

Chapter 3 Basic Attending, Listening, and Action Skills.

Attending Behavior.

Moving Beyond Attending.

Nondirective Listening Responses.

The Pull to Reassurance.

Directive Listening Responses.


Suggested Readings and Resources.

Chapter 4 Directives: Questions and Action Skills.

Using Questions.

Directive Action Responses.


Suggested Readings and Resources.

Chapter 5 Theoretically-Supported and Evidence-Based Relationships in Clinical Interviewing.

Carl Rogers’s Core Conditions.

Evidence-Based Psychoanalytic and Interpersonal Relationship Concepts.

Evidence-Based Behavioral and Social Psychology Concepts.

Evidence-Based Feminist Relationship Concepts.

Evidence-Based Solution-Focused and Constructive Relationship Concepts.


Suggested Readings and Resources.

Part Three: Structuring and Assessment.

Chapter 6 An Overview of the Interview Process.

Structural Models.

The Introduction.

The Opening.

The Body.

Applying Interventions.

The Closing.



Suggested Readings and Resources.

Chapter 7 Intake Interviewing and Report Writing.

What Is an Intake Interview?

Objectives of Intake Interviewing.

Factors Affecting Intake Interview Procedures.

Brief Intake Interviewing.

The Intake Report.


Suggested Readings and Resources.

Chapter 8 The Mental Status Examination.


What Is a Mental Status Examination?

The Generic Mental Status Examination.

When to Use Mental Status Examinations.


Suggested Readings and Resources.

Chapter 9 Suicide Assessment.

Personal Reactions to Suicide.

Suicide Statistics.

Key Components in a State-of-the-Science Suicide Assessment Interview.

Suicide Risk Factors and Suicide Risk Factor Assessment.

Conducting a Thorough Suicide Assessment.

Suicide Intervention.

Professional Issues.


Suggested Readings and Resources.

Chapter 10 Diagnosis and Treatment Planning.

Principles of Psychiatric Diagnosis.

Diagnostic Assessment: Methods and Procedures.

The Science of Clinical Interviewing: Diagnostic Reliability and Validity.

A Balanced Approach to Conducting Diagnostic Clinical Interviews.

Treatment Planning.

An Integrated (Biopsychosocial) Approach to Treatment Planning.


Suggested Readings and Resources.

Part Four: Interviewing Special Populations.

Chapter 11 Challenging Clients and Demanding Situations.

Part One—Challenging Clients.

Part Two—Demanding Situations.


Suggested Readings and Resources.

Chapter 12 Interviewing Young Clients.

Special Considerations in Working with Children.

The Introduction.

The Opening.

The Body.

The Closing.



Suggested Readings and Resources.

Chapter 13 Principles and Tips for Interviewing Couples and Families.

Some Ironies of Interviewing Couples and Families.

Interviewing Stages and Tasks.

Special Considerations.


Suggested Readings and Resources.

Chapter 14 Interviewing in a Diverse and Multicultural World.

Relationship in the Context of Diversity.

Four Large Worldviews.

Other Diverse Client Populations.

Cultural Complexities and Identities.

Assessment and Culture-Bound Syndromes.

Professional Considerations.


Suggested Readings and Resources.


Author Index.

Subject Index.

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Author Information

JOHN SOMMERS-FLANAGAN has a PhD in clinical psychology and is Associate Professor of Counselor Education at the University of Montana. He serves as a psychological consultant with Trapper Creek Job Corps. His research interests include clinical interviewing, parent consultations, and adolescent psychotherapy.

RITA SOMMERS-FLANAGAN earned her PhD at the University of Montana where she is now a Professor of Counselor Education. She provides mental health consultation at the Missoula Vet Center and Trapper Creek Job Corps. She has taught and written in the area of applied, practical ethics for the past fifteen years.
John and Rita have coauthored seven books, including Becoming an Ethical Helping Professional: Cultural and Philosophical Foundations and Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories in Context and Practice: Skills, Strategies, and Techniques (both from Wiley).

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New to This Edition

  • 4E includes updated research throughout
  • New chapter (11) on Diagnosis and Treatment Planning relating to clients with addictions and other challenging problems
  • New content on motivational interviewing, solution-focused and constructivist approaches, new section on therapeutic questions, and strengthened content throughout on multicultural perspectives.
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The Wiley Advantage

  • The most comprehensive text on clinical interviewing.
  • Integrates diverse theoretical models.
  • Provides excellent pedagogic tools such as case examples, "Putting It Into Practice" boxes,  and helpful chapter summaries.
  • Includes an on-line instructor's manual with test items and PowerPoint slides.
  • A stronger emphasis on evidence-based practice.
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"The fourth edition of this classic by John and Rita Sommers-Flanagan is simply a triumph! This book has both extraordinary depth and breadth. The authors do an exceptional job of describing mundane--but critical--details of learning to interview while still capturing and articulating the essential "big picture" aspects of contemporary clinical interviewing. The book has it all: theory, research, case material, and the essential "how to's", all presented in an accessible and lively format. It is hard to imagine a better book for beginning clinicians."
—David A. Jobes, Ph.D., ABPP, Professor of Psychology, Co-Director of Clinical Training, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC

"Thorough, thoughtful, and well-written, John and Rita Sommers-Flanagan do an outstanding job demonstrating the scientist-practitioner model in action. The text provides excellent coverage of the basic skills involved in clinical interviewing, and the material is brought to life through an engaging literary style, numerous case examples, and informative and amusing anecdotes. The authors also confront important ethical issues pertaining to clinical interviewing, such as informed consent, confidentiality and its limits, and documentation according to HIPAA standards. The review of the literature is current, summarizing many contemporary issues and controversies, such as revisions to be included in DSM-V."
—James C. Overholser, Ph.D., ABPP; Professor of Psychology, Director of Clinical Training, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH; Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

"It is a delight to see the 4th Edition of the Sommers-Flanagan's excellent work. They understand counseling and therapy, their writing is clear, and this book will be enjoyed by students and faculty alike."
—Allen E. Ivey, Ed.D., ABPP; Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; President, Microtraining Associates, Inc.

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Related Websites / Extra

John & Rita Sommers-FlanaganVisit author John & Rita Sommers-Flanagan site for more information
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