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Forensic Interviewing. Ragna Guðbrandsdóttir Master in Social work Children´s Advocacy Center in Iceland. Objectives. The difference between forensic interviewing and therapeutic interviewing Identify the elements of a good interview Identify problematic interview components

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forensic interviewing

Forensic Interviewing

Ragna Guðbrandsdóttir

Master in Social work

Children´s Advocacy Center in Iceland

  • The difference between forensic interviewing and therapeutic interviewing
  • Identify the elements of a good interview
  • Identify problematic interview components
  • Explain the importance of rapport-building
  • Describe useful ground rules for interviewing
forensic vs therapeutic interviewing
The goal is discovering the truth, the facts

Objective standpoint

Alternative explanations are explored

Obtaining corroborating details is imperative

Establishing the child´s competency is a concern

The way information is acquired is strictly governed

Expression of emotions in a nurturing environment

Advocate who assumes the child is telling the truth

Subjective interpretations accepted

Nonspecific accounts of abuse are sufficient

The credibility of the child is not questioned

How information is obtained is not of concern

Forensic vs.therapeutic interviewing
suggestions for successful interview with a young child
Suggestions for successful interview with a young child
  • Fundamental knowledge of child´s developmental level
  • Use developmentally appropriate language
  • Keep questions simple. Don´t ask more than one question at a time
  • Be sure the child understands the question being asked
  • Calm and supportive presentation
  • Objective stance
the child
The child
  • The time of the interview should be aimed at the child´s needs
  • Parents need guidance in how to prepare their children for the interview
  • The location of the interview is important for the child
  • The child has to know who is watching the interview and who has access to the information given
  • The parents role during the interview
  • The alleged offender´s role
  • Don´t interview a child who has a limited vocabulary; cannot be understood; or is unable to understand basic concepts
forensic interviewing1
Forensic interviewing
  • Establish rapport with the child in the beginning of the interview process
  • Introduce “ground rules” of the interview
  • Assessing a child´s developmental level
  • The main task “Why are you here today”
  • Closing the interview
rapport building
Rapport building
  • Means the CHILD does most of the talking
  • Serves as an “ice-breaker”
  • Serves as a “practice interview”
  • Takes some time; is not hurried
  • Leads to the child providing more information during the substantive part of the interview
techniques for building rapport
Techniques for building rapport
  • Tell the child your name and what you do
  • Make sure that the child feels comfortable in the beginning of the interview with easy to answer questions
  • Tell me a little bit about yourself and about your family
    • Name
    • Home
    • School
    • Favorite topics
techniques for building rapport1
Techniques for building rapport
  • Invite the child to describe a recent event;
    • Birthday
    • Holiday
    • Bedtime
    • Dinner time
rapport building cont
Rapport building cont.
  • Use open-ended questions:
    • Who
    • What
    • When
    • Where
  • Include open-ended follow-ups that invite the child to keep talking:
    • “Tell me more about that”
    • “I´m really interested. I´d like to hear more.”
    • “Mm Hmm…”
    • “Ohhh…”
ground rules
Ground rules
  • Tell your name and that your job is to talk to children about things that have happened to them
  • I talk to a lot of children here at the children´s house
  • Today my job is to get to know you a little better and find out about your live
  • Tell the child that the interview is been videotaped so you can remember everything
  • Tell the child who is watching and why
  • Let the child know how the interview is structured and the rules
i don t know
I don't know
  • I might ask some questions that you don´t know the answers to. That´s OK. I don´t expect you to know the answers to all of my questions
  • Say, “I don´t know” if you don´t know the answer. If you do know the answer, then I want you to tell me the answer. That´s the only way I can help you today. But if you don´t know, just say “I don´t know.”
i don t know cont
I don't know cont.
  • Let´s practice that. If I say, “what is my dog´s name?” You should say...(Wait for answer).
  • That´s right. If you don´t know the answer, just say, “I don´t know.”
i don t understand
I don´t understand
  • If I ask a question that you don’t understand—a question that sounds kind of “weird” to you, just say “Stop: I don´t understand.” Then I’ll try to ask the question a different way. I only want you to answer question if you understand it
  • Let’s practice that. If I say, “How many wogs are in a wug?” you should say....
  • That’s right. If you don’t understand the question, say, “Stop. I don’t understand that question.”
repeated questions
Repeated questions
  • Sometimes I´ll ask you the same question more than once. That doesn't mean that you gave me the wrong answer. It just means that my memory isn’t very good sometimes, so I forget things.
  • If I ask you the same question again, just tell me the truth. Tell me what really happened, even if you already told me. Will you do that?
correct mistakes
Correct mistakes
  • Sometimes I make mistakes. If I say things that are wrong, I want you to correct me.
  • Practice like with calling the child the wrong name and have them correct you
tell the truth
Tell the truth
  • I want you to tell me only what really happened, even if you said something different to somebody else at some other time. Today I want you to tell me only what REALLY happened
    • Don´t tell me anything “pretend”
    • Don´t guess about things
    • Don´t tell me what someone else told you to say happened

It is very important to tell the truth in this room today

the truth lies ceremony
The Truth/Lies “Ceremony”
  • I want to be sure you understand the difference between the truth and lie
  • Can you explain the difference to me in your own words
  • Lets take an example, if I say I am a man, is that the truth or a lie? (Wait for answer)
  • If I say I am a woman, is that a lie or the truth? (Wait for answer)
the truth lies ceremony1
The Truth/Lies “Ceremony”
  • I see that you understand the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie, and that´s very important
  • While we talk today, I want you to tell me only the truth, only things that really happened to you. Will you do that?
assessing a child s developmental level
Assessing a child´s developmental level
  • Where is the child developmentally according to age
  • Assessing general skills;
    • Ability to count
    • Ability to identify colors
    • Ability to name body parts
  • Understanding of basic concepts
    • In/out
    • Up/down
    • Over/under
    • Inside/outside
developmental level cont
Developmental level cont.
  • Childs understanding of concepts related to the abuse
    • Bigger/smaller
    • Dry/wet
    • Soft/hard
why are you here today substantive free narrative
Why are you here today? Substantive Free Narrative
  • Let the child know that you are changing the subject to avoid confusion
  • Now that we know each other a little better, I want you to tell me the reason that you are here today
free narrative cont
Free Narrative cont.
  • Tell me the reason you came to talk to me today. If a child makes an allegation, repeat the allegation and ask for more detail
    • I want you to tell me everything that happened in your own words
    • I will ask you some question to help you tell me
    • I want to hear about all the details that you can remember from the beginning to the end
free narrative cont1
Free Narrative cont.
  • If the first request is not successful, try the following
    • I understand that something has been bothering you. It´s important that you tell me about what has been bothering you
    • This is a place that children can tell if something is bothering them
  • Never force a child to talk
types of questions
Types of Questions
  • Open-ended
  • Closed
  • Leading
  • Misleading
  • Forced-choice
  • Multiple
open ended questions
Open-ended Questions
  • Open-ended questions are the best kind of questions from the point of view of evidence and information-gathering
  • Minimizes the risk that the interviewer will impose his/her view of what happened on the interviewee
  • Open-ended questions elicit responses similar to those obtained by free recall which has been found to be the most accurate form of remembering
    • I know that you just moved. Tell me about that?
closed questions
Closed Questions
  • Allows only a relatively narrow range of responses, and the response usually consist of one word or a short phrase
  • Closed questions are the second best type of questions and are good to follow up on open ended responses or free recall
    • What color was his hair?
forced choice question
Forced-choice question
  • This type of question leaves interviewees only a small number of alternatives from which they must choose and which may, in fact, not include the correct option.
  • “Do you prefer tea, coffee or hot-chocolate?”
multiple questions
Multiple questions
  • A multiple question is an utterance that asks about several things at once
  • “Did you see him? Was he standing? Did he have a coat on?”
  • The main problem with this utterance is that people do not know which part of it to answer
  • Prone to create misunderstanding
  • Only ask one question at times
leading and misleading questions
Leading and misleading questions
  • The distinction between a leading and misleading questions concerns the nature of the implies response. The prior leads the interviewee to a correct response whereas the latter leads the interviewee to an incorrect response
    • You told your mom that you were scared of him, did you?
closing the interview
Closing the Interview
  • Review the main points the child has disclosed or described to you
  • Confirm, for each point separately that you heard the child correctly
  • Tell the child that he or she may remember more details later that you need to know those, too
  • Encourage the child to let someone know if he or she remembers more
  • Ask whether the child has any questions for you
  • Thank the child for talking with you
closing cont
Closing cont.
  • Return to a neutral topic, such as what the child will do after the interview is over, or child´s pets, hobbies, or activities
  • Don´t give the child any promises
  • Prepare them if you think or know that they have to come back for another interview
  • Remember this interview is the first step or the gateway to the child´s recovery
good interviewer behavior
Good interviewer behavior
  • Appropriate non-verbal behavior during the interview is just as important for successful interview as the verbal instructions:
    • Sit in a relaxed manner: turn your body somewhat towards the interviewee (10 to 2)
    • Express friendliness and support
    • Use eye contact frequently but do not stare at the interviewee
    • Speak slowly, use short sentences and leave short pauses between sentences
  • Express attention and interest frequently by nodding, “mhm” etc. But do not give qualitative feedback (e.g. “good”, “right”)
  • Praise the interviewee for his or her effort in general
  • Avoid hectic movements and hectic speech style
  • Do not interrupt
  • Allow for pauses
  • Express patience
the interview room
The Interview room
  • The interview room should not be too big
  • The room should be child friendly with pictures and colors that children like
  • No toys for playing but stuffed animals are OK
  • Furniture in children's sizes if possible
  • Crayons and paper if needed
  • No drinks or food
helpful hints for forensic interviewing
Helpful hints for forensic interviewing
  • Script
  • Good organization or work habits
  • Lot of practice
  • Criticize your own work by looking at videocassettes of your interviews
  • No interview is perfect