Interviewing Clients across Cultures : A Practitioner's Guide book cover
1st Edition

Interviewing Clients across Cultures
A Practitioner's Guide

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ISBN 9781606234051
Published August 10, 2009 by Guilford Press
334 Pages

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Book Description

Packed with practical pointers and examples, this indispensable, straight-talking guide helps professionals conduct productive interviews while building strong working relationships with culturally and linguistically diverse clients. Chapters cover verbal and nonverbal ways to build rapport and convey respect; how to overcome language barriers, including effective use of interpreters; culturally competent interviews with children and adolescents; and key issues in working with immigrants and refugees. Strategies for avoiding common cross-cultural misunderstandings and producing fair, accurate reports are presented. Every chapter concludes with thought-provoking discussion questions and resources for further reading.

Table of Contents

1. A Guide to Interviewing across Cultures

2. Preparing for the Interview

3. Biases and Boundary Issues

4. Setting the Right Tone: Building Rapport and Conveying Respect

5. Beyond Words: Nonverbal Communication in Interviews

6. Language Competence: Building Bridges with People Who Have a Different Native Language

7. The Interpreted Interview

8. Understanding and Addressing Reluctance to Divulge Information

9. Interviewing Culturally Diverse Children and Adolescents

10. Interview Reports and Documents

11. Authority and Trust Issues for Specific Professions

12. Common Dilemmas and Misunderstandings in Cross-Cultural Interviews

Afterword: Your Self as a Resource

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Lisa Aronson Fontes, PhD, is on the faculty of the University Without Walls at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has dedicated two decades to making the social service, mental health, criminal justice, and medical systems more responsive to culturally diverse people. Dr. Fontes has published widely on cultural issues in child maltreatment and violence against women, cross-cultural research, and ethics. She has worked as a family, individual, and group psychotherapist, and has conducted research in Santiago, Chile, and with Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and European Americans in the United States. She also worked for three years with Somali refugees. In 2007 Dr. Fontes was awarded a Fulbright Foundation Fellowship, which she completed in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, she is a frequent conference speaker and workshop facilitator.


"This book is a 'must read' for anyone training to be, or already serving, in a professional role in today's multicultural society. It is important, accessible, and filled with lively case examples. I recommend this book as required reading for graduate and undergraduate courses and for professionals who work with clients or carry out research in any mental health or human service setting."--Sandra A. Graham-Bermann, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan

"This work is an essential addition to the library of professionals who conduct nearly any kind of interview. Its careful strategies for respecting and negotiating so many different aspects of cross-cultural interactions are invaluable. Fontes's reputation in the field is top-notch, and with this book she provides the best, most current interviewing guide I have seen."--Sharon W. Cooper, MD, FAAP, Department of Pediatrics, University of North Carolina School of Medicine

"Interviewing is often taken for granted in professional training programs, and as a result many of us are not exposed to ways of negotiating cultural differences which can make the difference between success and failure in this important relationship-building activity. No matter what your professional training and background, you will benefit enormously from the rich material and interesting examples in this book. I highly recommend it as a course text for teaching students to conduct a sensitive, effective, and culturally informed interview with clients from all walks of life who are seeking our help."--David A. Wolfe, PhD, RBC Chair in Children's Mental Health, and Director, Centre for Prevention Science at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto

"Today, helping professionals must think globally; we need tools to interview and assess racially, ethnically, culturally, and economically diverse clients. Fontes’s book is timely and informative. Drawing on the research and practice literature, her personal experience, and that of other professionals who provide culturally sensitive services, she offers much-needed, practical advice about how to avoid pitfalls and conduct successful interviews that span the cultural divide between professional and client."--Kathleen Coulborn Faller, PhD, ACSW, Marion Elizabeth Blue Professor of Children and Families; Director, Family Assessment Clinic, School of Social Work, University of Michigan

"This extremely helpful and instructive book has amazing breadth and depth in analyzing the interview process from beginning to end. Fontes provides guidance on all aspects of preparing for, conducting, and documenting interviews, interweaving cultural issues throughout. She shows tremendous sensitivity and good sense in helping readers handle cultural differences and dilemmas. Highly readable, the book is suitable for everyone from students to practicing professionals."--Stanley Sue, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Asian American Studies, University of California, Davis

This accessible practitioner's guide tells it like it is....Fontes brings to the fore our focus on the need to be more ethically and universally minded, cultural challenges that are pre-requisites if we, as therapists, wish to develop a more purposeful relationship with our clients, whether they are children or adults, from the diverse cultures of the globe....Documents each strategy in navigating the best route for intercultural working. Be you student or established therapist, this book will open your eyes. Essential reading!
--The Independent Practitioner, 7/3/2009ƒƒ
A practitioner's intervention guide for gathering information and building healthy relationships with new clients....The text is well organized and would be a very effective resource for graduate counseling students, novice counselors, as well as seasoned professionals who truly want to understand the dynamics of working with culturally diverse populations. She provides a clear examination of ideals appropriate for interviewing in the context of health, demographics, and socioeconomic status that must be addressed from a multicultural perspective. With the country becoming more and more diverse, Dr. Fontes' book is promising and timely.
--The Family Journal, 7/3/2009ƒƒ
Lisa Aronson Fontes has a wealth of knowledge, experience, and skills in working with, writing about, and researching cross-cultural issues in different contexts....I was able to align ideas in the book with systematic concepts such as the self of the therapist, multiple perspectives, the importance of context, social constructionist approaches (including the importance of language and meaning, both spoken and unspoken) and the therapeutic alliance.
--Journal of Family Therapy, 7/3/2009ƒƒ
Provides specific guidelines for dealing with language competence issues as well as other relevant topics....The author advises readers well....The author also offers advice on diverse issues that are relevant during and after the interview....Taboo topics are well presented and include substance abuse and child abuse....At the end of each chapter is a list of questions and recommended readings. These may also be useful for teaching purposes in academic settings.
--Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 7/3/2009ƒƒ
Deftly blends general principles, clinical anecdotes, and information about specific cultures. It strikes the right balance between practitioners' desire to know specific facts about the culture in which they most frequently interact and the need to provide general principles that will help practitioners to become aware of their own cultural biases and to work with clients from any culture....Throughout her book, Fontes maintains a broad focus and includes material of relevance to varied disciplines....Even more impressive is Fontes' ability to discuss sensitive matters of race, ethnicity, class, and language in an honest, informative manner. The reader feels welcomed, whatever his or her degree of comfort and knowledge, and is gently yet firmly taught how to work more effectively with clients from different backgrounds. Readers with little experience interviewing clients from other cultures will be given a framework in which to get started: knowledge about degrees of acculturation, things to think about when preparing for an interview, and how to build rapport....Each chapter includes questions for further thought and discussion, which could be used in teaching and supervision. I recommend this book highly to practitioners of any discipline.
--Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 7/3/2009