Explorative Questions for Uncovering Depressive Angst and Suicidal Pain

Mar 08, 2017

“Talent is nurtured in solitude; character is formed on the stormy billows of the world.”

Goethe
German Novelist

Explorative Questions for Uncovering Depressive Angst and Suicidal Pain

TISA Description of the Problem: Helping clients to clearly communicate the extent of their pain is sometimes effectively done by asking them to rate their own pain. The following practical questions come from Kris Jenkins, LCSW, CSAC who provided such an excellent clinical interviewing tip last month (June 2010) on ways of raising the topic of psychosis in a gentle fashion. Special thanks to Kris for her continued rich contributions to our forum.

Tip: I find that the following questions, demonstrate both concern to the client and also enhance the likelihood that I am getting a clearer idea of the client’s pain. In essence hearing that the client would rate the intensity of his depression at a 9 means more to me than him saying, “It’s pretty bad” and leaves less room for miscommunication. Here are three questions I find useful in this regard:

1) “On a scale of 1-10 where would you rate your depression?”

2) “On a scale of 1-10 where would you rate your hopelessness?”

3) “On a scale of 1-10, how much are you feeling like a failure?”

TISA Follow-up: One of the powers of these clinical interviewing tips from Kris is the fact that they touch upon some of the key triggers that often lead to suicide. I also find that patients appreciate that the interviewer is truly trying to understand the extent of their pain.

Tip provided by:

Kris Jenkins, LCSW, CSAC
kajenkins@gmail.com