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3 - Introduction to the Patient Interview

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 July 2021

Audrey Walker
Affiliation:
Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York
Steven Schlozman
Affiliation:
Harvard Medical School
Jonathan Alpert
Affiliation:
Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York
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Summary

Interviewing patients is one of the most rewarding aspects of clinical psychiatry. It offers an opportunity to get to know someone, to find clues to diagnosis, and to relieve suffering. The psychiatric interview thus functions as an alliance-building process, diagnostic procedure, and therapeutic intervention. While this may sound complex, the interview process can be simplified by learning to approach it with the proper attitude. This can be considered analogous to helping a young musician learn how to have proper posture at the piano or to hold a violin and bow correctly. Without a good feel for the instrument, and without the appropriate perspective for learning what the music is about, the simple drilling of scales and fingerings will be misguided. Similarly, in the psychiatric interview, one must have a proper attitude toward the patient to be of the most help. The key qualities of this approach are curiosity, respect, and caring. If you notice obstacles to feeling interested in or caring about the patient, do not despair – such attitudes can be cultivated (see the section on empathy and compassion later in this chapter).

Type
Chapter
Information
Introduction to Psychiatry
Preclinical Foundations and Clinical Essentials
, pp. 38 - 69
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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References

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