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Cultural and Religious Awareness

The clinician should attempt to understand mental suffering in the context of the interviewee’s circumstances, beliefs, and cultural norms rather than rush to diagnose and classify. Awareness of culture specific syndromes and native language-bound idioms of distress is of paramount importance for conducting the interview and formulating the clinical impression and conclusion. When the interviewer has little or no knowledge about the interviewee’s language and culture, the assistance of an interpreter is essential. An interpreter from the interviewee’s country of origin will facilitate an understanding of the language, customs, religious traditions, and other beliefs that will need to be considered during the evaluation.

In addition, interviewers should make sure to conduct him or herself in a manner that does not offend cultural or religious sensibilities. A lack of such awareness risks alienating the individual and/or causing them to feel uneasy, leading to a less effective interview.