The clinical interview is at the heart of psychological injury assessments in CTP, WorkCover and personal injury cases. But is it dead? Or should it be dead? Psychologist PAUL PHILLIPS argues for the affirmative.
If a person has been injured at work, they deserve to be looked after. That is why the workers’ compensation system exists. The worker who injures their body often goes to a doctor or hospital and has tests to establish what has occurred, whether surgery is needed, and what rehabilitation processes may be required. However, with psychological injuries the process is radically different. The worker often presents to their local general practitioner who, after diagnosing their mental state as meeting criteria for a mental illness, refers them to a psychologist for therapy and a psychiatrist for medication management. The worker usually skips over any thorough diagnostic process other than the conventional clinical interview. It is not until the worker has received treatment that an insurer may request a second opinion on what the diagnosis is and whether the treatment is appropriate.
The question is, how should this process of determining the diagnosis take place in a manner that is fair and reasonable? More importantly, how should it take place in a manner that ensures a reliable diagnosis? The current answer is another clinical interview. The irony in that answer is that it is an admission that two clinical interviews do not always reveal the same thing.