IPT Book Reviews

Title: Investigative Interviews of Children: A Guide for Helping Professionals  Positive Review Positive Review Positive Review
Authors: Debra A. Poole and Michael E. Lamb
Publisher: American Psychological Association, 1998

American Psychological Association
APA Order Department
P.O. Box 92984
Washington, DC 20090-2984
(800) 374-2721
$39.95 (c)

This 295-page book combines theory, research, and practice, and provides practical instructions for conducting effective, noncontaminating interviews of children. The book begins with a summary of the current understanding about child abuse, including the controversies over interviewing strategies and the factors behind false allegations. It then addresses the strengths and weaknesses of children as witnesses and how this relates to interviewing. The third chapter describes efforts to construct interview protocols, including the cognitive interview, the step-wise interview, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development protocol.

Chapter 4 presents a flexible interview protocol for interviewing children. This chapter is detailed and practical and the suggestions are solidly grounded in research. QuickGuides on the phases of the interview and the hierarchy of interview questions provide readily accessible cues for an interviewer.

Chapter 5 summarizes the research on children's language development and how this relates to talking with children. The evidence for ancillary techniques, including drawings, anatomically-detailed dolls, and other props is reviewed in Chapter 6, which also contains information on interviewing children with disabilities, and a brief description of Criterion-Based Content Analysis/Statement Validity Analysis.

The last chapter contains an excellent discussion of decision theory and judgment and decision making in professionals. Systematic errors and common biases that result in mistaken conclusions are described, along with strategies for overcoming these. The book ends with 32 pages of references and an index.

This important book should be read and studied by all professionals who conduct investigatory interviews of children. It is the best available resource for understanding how to interview children properly. It is also useful for anyone who wants to know the current research on child witnesses and how they must be interviewed to obtain reliable and accurate information.

Reviewed by Hollida Wakefield, Institute for Psychological Therapies.

Order this book: Hardcover

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