Assessment interviewing often takes place during the early stages of helping, which includes obtaining information about the client related to the client’s problem or area of change desired. During this stage of helping, the counselor is involved in “conceptualization or formulation” of the problem within counseling sessions or specifically within the assessment interview. Interviewing to assess entails a focus on all aspects of clinical concern, including physiology, cognition, behavior, duration, severity, relationships, and context. A detailed and thorough assessment interview that clarifies the problem holistically leads not only to accurate assessment but also, in later stages of helping, to amelioration. Assessment interviewing is viewed as the foundation of the therapeutic, counseling, and/or rehabilitation process. This chapter is on the assessment interview. It covers types and formats of assessment interviews. This overview is intended to orient the reader to the importance of depth, detail, and thoroughness within the assessment interview.
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Basic counseling skills are essentially relationship-building and empathic listening skills, drawing out client stories and concerns in depth, along with the surrounding context. Thus, basic counseling skills serve as the foundation for working collaboratively with clients in understanding and conceptualizing their concerns and problems in ways that can be addressed, along with developing counseling, service, and intervention plans to address the concerns in collaboration with the client. The skills are basic to virtually all theoretical orientations in counseling, which help counselors conceptualize problems and develop plans for interventions and other services. This chapter facilitates understanding and development of the skills to apply in counseling, regardless of a counselor’s theoretical orientation. It helps the reader to develop knowledge and skill in applying basic attending behaviors in counseling and to develop skill in integrating the basic listening skills to structure a counseling session.