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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Royce Lee, MD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This book about the psychiatric interview is focused on the patient-doctor interaction, describing in detail processes that many clinicians leave to intuition or common sense. But the author diligently illustrates how studying these interactions carefully can lead to a more effective interview.
Purpose: This book is unique in the broadness of its scope and intended audience. One of its central tenets is that the interview is a dynamic process between two humans. The clinician needs to be aware of this process in order to facilitate communication during the interview. Particularly useful examples are given with depressed and/or psychotic patients who are extremely sensitive to both verbal and nonverbal cues from the clinician.
Audience: It promises to be very useful to the psychiatrist in training, or all those interested in refining their approach to the interview process. On the jacket, the book is addressed to "psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers, nurses, and other mental health professionals." While Shea's expertise is on the dynamics of human interaction, it should be emphasized that his techniques are not meant to be specific to the psychodynamic psychiatrist. His clinical examples cover emergency room interviews, medication evaluations, and forensic evaluations as well.
Features: Using a rich (and well annotated) palette of information from various fields, including psychoanalysis, behavioral psychology, and sociology, the author writes about the entire interview, and reveals the rich interaction that begins even before the first words are spoken. The first few chapters cover the meaning of common cues in verbal and nonverbal communication, while later chapters detail specific topics covered in the initial interview, such as potential for suicidal or homicidal behavior, psychosis, depression, and the mental status exam. He leaves details of the neuropsychiatric, child, and forensic exams to other sources, and concentrates his attention on how the dynamics of the interview process affect every part of the basic, adult psychiatric exam.
Assessment: It is no surprise that this book has been well received by major psychiatric journals. However, it is always a pleasant surprise to find an engaging book that is both theoretically sound and clinically indispensable.