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A key point is to explain to students that in order to provide them with the best services possible, it is my practice when we first meet to ask about a lot of experiences and feelings that students often report, even when they seem unrelated to the issue that brought
them to counseling.
I would also say that in order to help them with whatever brought themto counseling, it helps to have a three-dimensional picture of them, because problems are experienced differently depending on one’s history, current situation, etc. Then, I will structure the questions so that I begin with less intrusive ones, and lead to more sensitive topics.
An example of the initial interview questions might be:
1) What is the major concern that brings you here today? Explain that we will talk a lot more about that, but that you want to get a sense of the student (not just the problem) so will be gathering background information today.
2) How did you decide to come for counseling? Have you ever been to counseling before? If yes, explore what was helpful, not helpful, etc. Gather history, including family of origin, physical illnesses or injuries, education, etc.
3) Ask about current relationship: significant other, friends, family, including siblings.
4) Ask about interests, hobbies, activities.
Tell me about your use of alcohol and other drugs. [use appropriate and very brief language]
5) How would you decide if that was a problem for you?
Has anyone in your family or your present household had a problem with alcohol or drugs? Tell me about that.
6) Have you ever experienced a trauma, a situation where you felt your life was threatened and you were terrified? How did you handle that experience?
7) Have you been abused? I consider abuse to be any behavior or situation that was imposed upon you either against your will or by tricking you or when you were too young or impaired or challenged to understand? If yes, How do you think that affects you today?
8) Have you ever felt so bad that you thought about committing suicide? Made an attempt? What happened? How much do you think about suicide now? Some people hurt themselves without intending to kill themselves. They may cut or burn themselves, for example. Have you ever done that?
Is there anything else I should know about you as we begin to work together so that you can reach your full potential?
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