Addressing Linguistic and Cultural Differences in the Forensic Interview [2018]

Given the increased cultural, linguistic and socioeconomic diversity of individuals undergoing legal proceedings, forensic mental health professionals around the world are often tasked with evaluating defendants who are drastically different from themselves. There appears to be a clear consensus that cultural competency should be a key component of both the training and practice of forensic mental health. However, despite the growing literature on multicultural assessment in clinical settings, there is little guidance on how to apply cultural competency principles to the area of forensic mental health assessment. This article reviews some of the challenges that arise during the forensic mental health interview with culturally diverse individuals. In addition, practice recommendations to mitigate some of these challenges are provided. Identified challenges and recommendations are organized around three stages: preparation for the interview (e.g., what type of knowledge about the defendant’s culture is needed beforehand, how to attain that knowledge, or whether and how to use translators), the initiation of the forensic interview (e.g., the effect of culture in the informed consent process), and the interviewing process itself (e.g., cultural challenges to developing rapport, and identification of mental status assessment domains that may be vulnerable to cultural influences).

V. Barber Rioja & B. Rosenfeld

International Journal of Forensic Mental Health, 05 Sep 2018