# 156 February 2013

"Knowledge was inherent in all things. The world was a library."

Chief Luther Standing Bear
Oglala Sioux

(continues below)

mental health professional trainings
primary care professional trainings
psychological assessment supervision and consultations
Shawn Christopher Shea
links and recommended readings


# 156 February 2013

Consulting the "Other Person"

TISA Description of the Problem: During initial interviews, clients are often describing moments of disagreement or anger with others. In addition they may have remarkably different impressions about their symptoms or behaviors than held by their loved ones. Obviously, it is useful to undertake corroborative interviews with these significant others, but sometimes that is not immediately possible. In the following excellent clinical interviewing tip, Glenn Elliott suggests a clever way in which one might “consult” with the missing person.

Tip: I find that the following question often yields surprisingly insightful information:

"If your wife (e.g. whomever the missing person might be) were here right now, what would she be saying?"

TISA Follow-up: I have used Glenn's excellent tip and it is quite effective. Sometimes the information is accurate. At other times it is distorted but still provides rich information about the relationship between the client and the person "consulted" from the client's tone of voice and elaborations upon the significant other's motivations. Even if not fully accurate, there is information of relevance almost always revealed. Yet again a nice example of a simple, yet powerful, technique to pass along when teaching clinical interviewing skills.

Tip provided by:

Glenn Elliott

TISA is a site dedicated to advancing the science and art of preventing suicide and teaching clinical interviewing