Assessment > Psychiatric Interview > Personal History

Personal History

Build a chronological picture of the person’s life paying particular attention to the events that may have shaped their


  • psychological development,

  • their capacity to form relationships,

  • their view of themselves and the world around them.


Early Development


  • Place and circumstances of the birth, type of delivery and complications.

  • Maternal mental health.

  • Early Trauma.

  • Early relationships.

  • Health and contact with services.

  • Developmental milestones.

  • Specifically ask about prolonged separation from their

       mother, hospital admissions.

  • Members of the family who have impacted on the

       patient's life should be recorded systematically.

  • Usually parents and siblings but might include fostering

       arrangements, carers, grandparents etc.

  • Brief paragraph describing age, occupation, health, cause and date of death, personality characteristics and how the patient felt that they related to them.



  • Dates and places attended should be recorded, activities enjoyed, successes and failures and how coped with.

  • How did they fit in at school with their peer group including bullying and their teachers.

  • Truancy and disciplinary record.

  • Exam results and age.

  • Reasons for leaving school.

  • Identify courses taken, completed, left early, successes and failures.

Occupational History


  • Age of first employment.

  • Length and types of employment and reasons for job change such as nonattendance, substance misuse, aggression, symptoms of mental illness etc.

  • Current job, role and any problems experienced.

Sexual History


Directed towards presentation and a complete exploration of sexual history may not be appropriate on initial assessment. 


  • Current partner and nature of relationship.

  • Sexual orientation, marriages, affairs, divorces, and the sexual and emotional life surrounding them should be discussed.

  • Age of puberty, first partner and sexual experience.

  • Reasons for each of the relationships starting and

       finishing should be sought and the emotional reaction

       in each circumstance noted.

  • Sexual difficulties - this can lead to disclosure of

      sexual assault and abusive experience which needs

      to be acknowledged and dealt with sensitively.

      Often patients find it easier to tell students this kind of information and you should request

      their permission to discuss it with your tutor.

  • Adverse sexual experiences including possible sexual abuse.

  • Current sexual functioning and any difficulties experienced, in context of life events, physical health and medication.

  • Children from each relationship should be listed with comments about age, health and service input.