Suggesting a “Verbal Videotape”?

Mar 09, 2017

“How is it that little children are so intelligent and men so stupid? It must be education that does it.”

Alexandre Dumas
French writer

Suggesting a “Verbal Videotape”?

TISA Description of the Problem: Readers who are familiar with my book The Practical Art of Suicide Assessment are familiar with a metaphor we use in the interviewing strategy for uncovering suicidal ideation, planning, behavior, and intent called the Chronological Assessment of Suicide Events (CASE Approach). We suggest that interviewers help clients to make a “verbal videotape” of the suicide attempt by using a series of fact-finding questions that walk the client through the event. Such a chain analysis, also used in therapies such as CBT and DBT, can significantly improve the validity of the information being garnered. This interviewing strategy is useful in many situations other than suicide to better uncover the truth, such as domestic violence and altercations with the law or employers. The metaphor of a “verbal videotape” is used with clinicians to remind them of the strategy.

Interestingly, during a workshop when I was teaching this concept, a clinician commented that she actually asks clients to make a verbal videotape (e.g. she uses the word “tape”? with the client) as seen in the following excellent clinical interviewing tip from Melinda Hiken, RN, MSCS-P.

Tip: I sometimes find the following question quite useful at getting at the truth:

“Pretend I am inside your brain and watching a tape. Tell me what I would be watching from start to finish.”

TISA Follow-up: This question could be used to start a “verbal videotape”? quite nicely. To see more about the power and use of verbal videotapes please see the free Two-part Article on Uncovering Suicidal Intent and the CASE Approach on our homepage in the far right sidebar entitled “Enjoy Tisa Resources”?.

Tip provided by:

Melinda Hiken, RN, MSCS-P.
St. Joseph Hospital
Psychiatric liaison nurse