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Just Jack
10-11-2009, 09:32 PM
I'm writing a story involving a young woman who see's a shrink on a regular basis.

So what kind of questions would a shrink ask someone?

KTC
10-11-2009, 09:35 PM
This is an extremely unfocused question, Jack. Could you maybe narrow it down a bit for us? What is she going for? A 'shrink'? Really? Think about what the young woman would call said 'shrink'. It's usually naysayers who refer to psychiatrists as 'shrinks'. Not really a term of endearment.

Do you have more information?

jennontheisland
10-11-2009, 09:43 PM
Shrink can also mean different things. Psychiatrist, who deals with organic mental illnesses and can rx meds, clinical psychologists who handle personality and relationship issues, therapists who guide you as you to talk things through yourself...

Lots of variables here dude.

stormie
10-11-2009, 09:47 PM
Please, call the doctor a psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist, on intake, would make note of what's bothering the patient, and also subtle and not-so-subtle body language. A psychiatrist prescribes meds (M.D.) and does some counseling. A psychologist counsels but cannot prescribe meds.

We need more info on your part, Jack.

veinglory
10-11-2009, 10:51 PM
There are also the options of psychoanalyist, behaviorist, counsellor and therapist, amongst others. But none of them would, with any degree of respect, be called a "shrink". In fact even as a derogatory term it is old-fashioned.

Siddow
10-11-2009, 11:24 PM
If you want to go all cliche with it: "And how does that make you feel?"

I agree with the others about the term shrink. And what they will ask depends entirely on the storyline and characterization. There's Q's pertinent to the girl's issue, then there's how you want the 'shrink' characterized. A good therapist will ask illuminating questions, a bad one will, well, see above. :) (and a really bad one will not ask any questions, but only discuss themselves...it's like therapy for the therapist...and quite funny, imho)

Adam Israel
10-11-2009, 11:56 PM
Moved to the story research forum. Good luck finding your answers, Jack!

archetypewriting
10-12-2009, 12:54 AM
I'm not offended by the word "shrink," though it does include several different types of therapists:
Psychiatrist - MD who can prescribe meds and may or may not do some counseling as well
Psychologist - person trained in doing therapy at the doctoral level
Counselor or Therapist - person trained in doing therapy at the masters level

The types of questions your therapist asks depends on the type of therapist s/he is and whether it's the first session or a later session.

I JUST finished writing a book on psychology for fiction writers, and I have a whole chapter with lists of questions exactly like you're asking for. Just turned it in to the publisher, but of course it takes months and months for a book to get published.

Here are a few to get you started:

To begin a session, therapists often say things like "Where should we start today?"

Good therapists should let the client do most of the talking -- that means they should ask lots of questions to keep the conversation going. Watch a good television journalist like Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer -- I'm sure you can find some interviews on YouTube -- the kinds of nosy questions they ask are EXACTLY the kinds of things therapists ask. They always ask them with compassion and kindness.

Good therapists also don't give advice, though they may give the client things to do -- books to read, tips on new things to try, etc.

A few questions to help keep the session going:

What happened next?

What's hardest about _____?

Why do you think ____ happened?

Or sometimes they check in and say things like "It sounds like you're sad/angry/frustrated about ______?

Does that help?

Wayne K
10-12-2009, 01:33 AM
The term shrink wasn't derogatory, it was a joke, and it was aimed at the patient, not the doctor. I (and I'm a lifetime member of insanity) always used it for psychiatrists. Therapists and psychologists, normal people went to. Psychiatrists were for the loony, like me.

I don't know how it's done today, because I don't go anymore. But before I left about two years ago, all the psychiatrist asked me about was medication.

backslashbaby
10-12-2009, 03:42 PM
There really are standard questions to ask if the doc doesn't have a clue what's up (no background on someone brought in, for instance). Those include 'orienting times three', etc, etc. (Google it and you should find a lot about that).

But is this the kind of situation you mean?

Here's some reading for the original interview, if that helps any:

http://books.google.com/books?id=yEC-aklbUkYC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA73#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Actually, later in this book you should find many situations and what to ask, but again, there are just so many situations! :)


all the psychiatrist asked me about was medication.


:ROFL: After having ten gazillion folks ask why I studied psychology instead of psychiatry, I'm gonna be snarky and admit to a huge laugh at that ;) :D

StephanieFox
10-12-2009, 10:04 PM
A standard question would be "What do you want to talk about today?"

"And then what happened?"

"Have you been working on what we talked about?"

If the doctor in question is a psycho-analyst, the questions from the doctor would be few. Maybe an 'um-hmm' once in a while. The point is for the patient to talk (a lot) about whatever comes into his or her mind.

My cousin is a shrink. That's how he refers to himself in social situations. It's not professional or for professional situations, but not automatically insulting, either.

veinglory
10-12-2009, 11:49 PM
Like a lot of words it can be used by the in group freely, but when used by anyone else it may well cause offense.

Mr Flibble
10-13-2009, 03:24 AM
all the psychiatrist asked me about was medication.

All I get is:

Are you married?
Kids?
( they ask every time - checking I'm in touch with reality maybe?)

How are you getting on with the meds?
I'm not - the meds are evil and must die
Oh we'll try another lot then, here have a prescription.

Only I won't take them any more, because the drugs are worse than the looniness tbh. At least when I'm just loony, I can talk and think and stuff, even if I'm not rational 100% of the time.

*cough*

Sorry, rant over.

I think I got me one of them 'Prescriber' not 'Counsellor' psychiatrists. Which, as said above, is for an organic problem. Although he's supposed to be referring me to a counsellor too, to help with the fallout from the diagnosis.

Wiskel
10-13-2009, 04:32 AM
There's a good reason why answers to the question of what a psychiatrist does are all over the place. Our jobs are all over the place.

I'm going to sound like Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition if i'm not careful here.

Basically

We're the best people to diagnose mental illness and to diagnose normality when people insist there is a mental illness. Other doctors can dabble in this, clinical psychologists, psychiatric nurses and others working in mental health can recognise quite a bit based on their own experience but we're the experts.
We're the best people to treat many of the major mental illnesses (especially if medication is needed) but the best treatments usually include some counselling so...
We can dabble in counselling but other members of our teams can usually do this better than us.
We're pretty good with a lot of neurological conditions, especially if they mimic mental illness but we wouldn't try to treat them as neurologists are better.
We're pretty good with risk...spotting it and avoiding it as much as possible.
Society wants us to lock away all of the people it doesn't like much but who haven't done anything worth going to jail for, or who've gone to jail but people really don't want to let out again.
People expect us to have some social work skills. It's considered impolite to get someone well in hospital then throw them into the gutter because they got evicted from their house. People like us to make sure someone is going home to a habitable situation.

The questions we ask depend entirely on why the person in front of us is there. One patient may have acute psychosis and think aliens want to eat their brain, the next may be sad because life isn't going well. The third may be using us as a professional best friend and offloading their life story.

Generally, we start with open questions.
How are you?
What's happened since we last met?

If someone wants to tell us something then they can answer however they like.

From there the questions depend on why the patient is in front of us.
The ill patient will get a lot of questions on symptoms and headaches and medication. if they change the subject I'll listen for a bit then change it back.
The sad patient will need more advice on pulling their life back together. They get to decide what's talked about and they get some questions on symptoms of depression and risk.
The offloading patient will want to be listened to and will be happy with a bit of advice as long as they've been heard. We probably couldn't stop them picking ths subject. occassionally we might be able to point out a few repeating patterns in their lives and suggest changes.

........and I'm steering clear of the whole psychodynamic psychotherapy bit here where people have loads of appointments and the psychotherapist reflects on such things as whether they're wearing a red jumper today because they're angry. To enter this type of therapy people usually need to be pretty messed up or have buckets of money and like it.


We nearly always throw in questions about whether someone is thinking about harming themselves (the judge would shout at us at the inquest if we didn't)

So, we could talk about anything, up to and including brain eating aliens, or we could spend the whole session listening and making occasional comments. As a very rough guide, ask yourself the question "What would need to change for the patient to no longer need to see the psychiatrist?" It's a pretty good bet the conversation will be about that.

Craig

augusto
10-13-2009, 05:21 AM
I've twice been asked to count backwards from 100 by sevens (93,86,79...).

augusto
10-13-2009, 05:24 AM
Oh, yea...they give you three words (crayon, elephant, notebook) in the beginning and ask you to recall them at the end of the session.

benbradley
10-13-2009, 07:07 AM
If the doctor in question is a psycho-analyst, the questions from the doctor would be few. Maybe an 'um-hmm' once in a while. The point is for the patient to talk (a lot) about whatever comes into his or her mind.
That sounds a lot like the "Freudian model." What's famous, or infamous, about it is its generality and predictableness, as embodied in the early (1960's) computer program Eliza that simulates a Freudian psychologist:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ELIZA
The article mentions how people became "attached" to the program, believing it understood them, and so told it their inner secrets.

...
I don't know how it's done today, because I don't go anymore. But before I left about two years ago, all the psychiatrist asked me about was medication.

...
I think I got me one of them 'Prescriber' not 'Counsellor' psychiatrists. Which, as said above, is for an organic problem. Although he's supposed to be referring me to a counsellor too, to help with the fallout from the diagnosis.
From what I heard 10 to 20 years ago, that's roughly how things work for many "in therapy." One sees a psychiatrist about once a month whose job is to ask how you're doing with the medications and make adjustments to prescriptions, then there's the (lower paid because he doesn't have an MD) psychologist one sees every week or two with whom one does "talk therapy."

archetypewriting
10-13-2009, 08:31 AM
Oh, yea...they give you three words (crayon, elephant, notebook) in the beginning and ask you to recall them at the end of the session.

That's part of a Mental Status Exam (MSE) :)

emilycross
10-15-2009, 12:49 AM
BenBradley, psychoanalysis is based on Freud's ideas

OP, I don't have much to add to what everyone has said (i think you've gotten some great replies), - you need to have a clear idea of your character, and why they are going to a 'shrink' -

whether its for relationships/grief or mental illness or whatever, - this will lead you to whether your character is going to see a]psychiatrist b]psychologist c] therapist d] counsellor.
Then within each of these fields, for example a cognitive psychologist vs. behaviouralist will have very different techniques