Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research
Objective: Based on a single intake interview, mental health clinicians must distill their assessment to brief statements reflecting essential information. We explored how clinicians organize and prioritize the clinical information they collect during the initial assessment of their clients. Method: We conducted in-depth semistructured interviews with a convenience sample of 38 clinicians in four community-and hospital-based mental health clinics in Israel. Clinicians were interviewed immediately following an intake session with 117 clients and were asked about the client’s main problem, evaluation process, rapport with the client, and role of sociocultural factors in assessment. We identified primary themes across interviews. Results: Clinicians prioritized a psychiatric diagnosis based on DSM-5 categories, followed by psychological processes and family and social relationships. Less than a third of clinicians (29.1%) viewed sociocultural and socioeconomic factors as important in discerning expressions of distress. Conclusions: Our findings raise questions about how the structured expectation of diagnosis may influence how clinicians gather and prioritize information.
Assessment, Culture, Mental health intake, Psychiatric diagnosis, Socioeconomic
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O'Neill, Margaret M. and Nakash, Ora, "Uncovering the Intricacies of the Clinical Intake Assessment: How Clinicians Prioritize Information in Complex Contexts" (2021). School for Social Work: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.