The interview is an important technique of gathering information to evaluate the personality of a client. In counselling, the interview is generally predetermined. Counselling interview is conducted either by a professional or a voluntary worker. An interview is based on: the needs of the client theoretical orientation of the counsellor time considerations. Nelson-Jone (1983) has divided counselling interviews into the following main kinds:
- The developmental interview
- The problem-focused interview
- The decision making interview
- The crises interview
- The supportive interview
The face-to-face interview provides an excellent way of exploring complex feelings and attitudes. It is particularly helpful in the client’s problems which are emotionally loaded and opportunities for observation are limited. They can be used to assess beliefs and opinions as well as personality characteristics.
The client’s responses provides answer to reveal both manifest and latent content. According to Sommer and Sommer 1986) manifest content is the one which is obvious and convened in spoken information of interview while latent content is that which is less obvious or more hidden conveyed by hesitations and non-verbal responses such as avoidance of eye contact, nervous gestures, or restlessness.
The interview may focus on personality characteristics rather than on the content e.g. psychiatric interview, where in-depth exploration of personality is made.
Collection of information about predetermined purpose. The interviewer should be friendly. neutral and impartial in his reactions to the counselee. Purposes of interview, usually are collection of data, supplementing, verification and observation.
Before moving forward let us see how Mucchielli (1983,) views the counseling interview:
I. The counselling interview is not a conversation.
II. The counselling interview is not discussion.
III. The counselling interview is not an interrogation
IV. The counselling interview is not a discourse by the interviewer
V. .The counselling interview is not a search for a diagnosis.
The interview is interpersonal communication and counselling interview is a special case of interpersonal communication. Because:
a) It is verbal communication
b) It is usually one-way communication
c) It is a situation with particular components and unique characteristics.
Certain factors determine the atmosphere of the interview situation. The counselor should be able to assess the influence of the following variables on the interview. Moreover, all variables do not have equal effects on interviews. Variables affecting interview can be divided into:
- External variables of time, space, and social setting.
- Variables related to the membership of particular groups.
- Historical variables.
How to observe and how to listen demands a knowledge of all the variables of the situations, and control and their mastery. It is important for a counsellor to keep the goal in his mind all the time. The following techniques listed by Chauhan (1982) may be useful for conducting interview for the purpose of diagnosis and counselling:
- Perfect rapport should be established before conducting the interview.
- The interviewee should be made to feel at ease.
- The interviewee should be ensured that information shall be kept confidential.
- The interviewee should be encouraged to express his thoughts and feelings freely.
- Avoid leading questions.
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