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The Minds of Psychiatrists Research Project

Al Siebert, PhD, Project Director

We're gathering data about what's in the the minds of psychiatrists. Listed below are interview questions to ask psychiatrists and clinical instructors. Students enrolled in graduate school or a professional program may wish to make the interviews a team project supervised by an instructor.

Make an interview appointment saying "I'm conducting interviews of mental health professionals for a research project. I would like to ask you a few questions about being a mental health professional and about mental patients. The interview will take about 30 minutes."

Take a print out of questions you want to ask, and a note pad for writing the person's answers. Record the interview using a tape-recorder, if possible.

An alternate approach is to look or opportunities during classes, seminars, or clinic meetings to ask one or two questions of special interest to you.

Interview questions:

Interview Guidelines

As you conduct your interview, allow yourself to ask more questions that spontaneously occur to you. You might have one person ask question while the other takes notes. Observe the body language of the person you interview. Notice their posture, body movements, facial expressions, tone of voice, and feelings while they talk. Is the interviewed professional relaxed and able to talk with you in a spontaneous, honest way or do they talk at you in a controlled, cautious, guarded, unemotional way?

Here is a portion of a report conducted by a sophomore college student who interviewed a psychiatrist. She said:

"He seated me in a chair near his desk. The furniture was arranged such that he, once seated, had to swivel his chair around 90 degrees to look at the person seated in the visitor's chair. He sat facing me directly during the interview. He did not change the position of his legs, body, or left arm during my 30 minute interview. He did move his right forearm and hand several times, but his upper arm remained still. He showed no facial movement with the exception of a hint of upward pull at the right corner of his mouth several times. I suspect that years of psychiatric training and practice have taught him to do nothing to be distracting to the patient. But since I wasn't a patient I found his lack of normal non-verbal cues to be very distracting. His voice was pleasant and projected a lot of meaning so it wasn't an uncomfortable situation-just different."

Reporting Guidelines

E-mail a report of your interview findings to:
Psychiatrist Interview Project.
Include comments about your feelings and impressions, as well as questions you have and what you learned.

View our related article: "The Psychiatric Tautology: Our Collective Nightmare"


email: Al Siebert, PhD
P.O. Box 535
Portland, OR 97207

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Disclaimer: Material found on the Successful Schizophrenia website is for your information only. We are not able dispense specific advice for your situation. If you are under a doctor's care, you should talk with him or her about your mental health goals and if they are not on the same page as you, ask for a referral to a doctor or counselor who is. It may mean interviewing several. If you are on your own, you may wish to contact your local county mental health department to ask for local resources. Our site exists to show people that there are all varieties of mental states and assessments of those states; that sometimes 'mental health' is in the eye of the beholder; and that the mental health profession needs to continue to open itself up to the new paradigm ... progress is being made!