Effective Questions for the Closing Phase of the Interview

Mar 01, 2017

“It (the detective story) supports more than any other kind of story, man’s favorite myth, that he’s Homo Sapiens, the rational animal. And of course the poor son-of-a-bitch isn’t a rational animal at all. I think the most important function of the brain is thinking up reasons for the decisions his emotions have made”

Rex Stout, mystery writer,
Creator of Nero Wolfe

Effective Questions for the Closing Phase of the Interview

TISA Description of the Problem: As the interview winds down, it is important to work together with the client towards future treatment planning. One of the cornerstones of this engagement process is gaining an understanding of what the client experienced in the session itself. The following tip provides some nice sample questions well designed for this important clinical task.

Tip: I have found the following questions to be wonderful gateways into a better understanding of the client’s feelings about both the initial interview and about working with me. I try to routinely touch upon them in the closing phase of the interview:

1. Do you feel I understood your problem?

2. Are you satisfied the way this interview went?

3. Do you think that this interview helped you?

TISA Follow-up: Jacques Bernier, who provided the above tip added the following comments: I find that questions, such as the above, help to accomplish the following tasks:

1. They help to verify the degree of engagement and provide clues as to whether or not the client intends to return for a second appointment.

2. They provide information on how the client interpreted and experienced the session, providing a window into the client’s psychodynamics.

3. They provide an opportunity for the client to add new information.

4. They provide a chance for the client to state if he or she was not satisfied (for some clients this may represent the first time they have had a chance to say something negative without being rejected).

5. They provide an idea as to what therapy itself might feel like.

Tip provided by:

Jacques Bernier, M.D.
Hopital Malsonneuves
Rosemont, Montreal, Canada