Essential Skills for Interviewing Children | Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre | UNB

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Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre

Essential Skills for Interviewing Children  

This course is completed entirely online

This self-paced course is the culmination of over 12 years research and development by the Centre for Investigative Interviewing. The Centre is a global leader in the field of interviewing children. The training is relevant for professionals working with vulnerable persons in the sectors of domestic violence, sexual violence, child protection, criminal justice, education, healthcare, and more.

Course overview

The course takes 35-45 hours and focuses on the ‘how to’ of interviewing children for professional investigation purposes (e.g., abuse investigation, non-criminal wrongdoing, medical decisions). It is practical and interactive in nature, including a child avatar, films, quizzes, webinars, and one-on-one sessions (over the phone or web) with a trainer. A certificate is provided on completion.

Learning outcomes

The course focuses on the questioning strategies needed to: build rapport, encourage disclosures, keep the child talking (and steer them towards providing important details while minimizing error), and make the interview as stress-free as possible.


  • Module 1: Establishing 'best practice' in interviewing children
  • Module 2: Defining the various questions
  • Module 3: Understanding memory and language development
  • Module 4: Choosing the most effective open-ended questions
  • Module 5: Putting the right questions into practice
  • Module 6: Introducing the topic of concern
  • Module 7: Introducing an interview protocol

What is needed to participate?

  • A computer with internet(high speed or dial-up)
  • Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Google Chrome, or Safari (recommended)
  • An email address
  • A computer headset with microphone

Your course facilitators

Dr Sonja Brubacher is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow and Trainer with the Centre for Investigative Interviewing (CII), with a background in developmental psychology. Her primary focus is investigative interviewing of child witnesses, with two key branches: what abilities and motivations children bring to an interview, and how to effectively train interviewers to elicit the best evidence from children.

She also studies memory for repeated events, interview preparatory phases, supportive techniques for interviews with vulnerable adult witnesses, and interviewer training. Sonja works remotely from Canada. This unique position allows her to liaise with forensic interviewers in North America, while conducting research with students and collaborators in Australia. She received her PhD in Canada (2011) and then spent two years as a Banting postdoctoral fellow at Central Michigan University, USA.

In 2014, she joined the CII at Deakin University, Australia, and stayed with the Centre when it moved in 2018 to the Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University. She has conducted over 500 narrative-based interviews with 4- to 9-year-old children (non-forensic), has evaluated thousands of victim/witness forensic interviews, and has prepared two expert witness reports. Sonja has over 65 peer-reviewed publications, 10 book chapters, and has won several awards for her work including the Diane J. Wilis Early Career Award (American Psychological Association), which recognizes young psychologists making contributions towards informing, advocating for and improving the mental health and well-being of children and families particularly through policy; the Association for Psychological Science’s Rising Star award for early career researchers at the cutting-edge of their fields; and the Academic Excellence Award from the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group (iIIRG), which recognizes leading academic contributions to the field of interviewing.

Dr Madeleine Bearman works as the Training Co-ordinator within the Centre for Investigative Interviewing (CII) at Griffith University. She completed her PhD thesis evaluating best-practice interview strategies for witnesses with expressive language impairment. She has evaluated over 1000 victim and witness interviews and is trained in standardized coding of question types, response types and interviewer behaviours. She has coordinated and assisted with the delivery and evaluation of interviewer training programs for a variety of organisations, including police, child protection, universities, social and disability services, health and legal organisations.

For several years, Dr Bearman worked with South Australia Attorney-General’s Department delivering a large-scale interviewer training program to over 170 Prescribed Interviewers in the state. Dr Bearman is experienced in a wide variety of activities related to interviewer training, including management of courses, development of training resources and courses, playing the role of the interviewee during practice exercises, and providing feedback on performance.

Dr Sarah Deck is a Research Fellow and Trainer with the Centre for Investigative Interviewing (CII). She completed her PhD at The University of Sydney, and her thesis explored the credibility of adult witnesses who recall a repeated event. A key component of her thesis research involved conducting interviews with adults who had experienced a repeated event, which requires specialist interviewer skill due to the nature of repeated-event memory.

After completing her PhD, Sarah joined the CII and works remotely from Canada. She regularly liaises with investigative interviewers throughout North America to provide guidance on their interviewing practice. In addition to researching memory, Sarah has conducted research in the fields of deception detection and jury decision-making. This research has been published in internationally recognised journals and presented at conferences around the world.


The cost for individuals is $1,200 CAD, plus HST. This covers full access (for up to 12 months until completion) to the online learning environment and a trainer. Prior to us accepting monies, the participant must read and agree to the terms and conditions.
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Course development

Professor Martine Powell

PhD, MClinPsych, BA (Hons), DipTeach, FAPS

Martine Powell is Professor of Psychology and full-time scholar in the Griffith Criminology Institute (Griffith University). Her research focuses on expanding knowledge on the ‘how to’ of obtaining accurate and detailed information from people about events to assist decision-making. Good investigative interviewing involves eliciting uninhibited, pertinent, accurate and complete information in fair and respectful ways. Powell has a broad educational background including degrees in clinical psychology and education. Her PhD and postdoctoral research examined human memory and suggestibility. A particular focus of her research has been eliciting evidence from vulnerable interviewee groups (e.g., children, adults with complex communication needs) and about sensitive topics such as sexual assault. She has also examined interviewing across other settings including medicine, education, and workplace investigation.

The influence of Martine’s research has been recognized by several lifetime career awards including 2021 admission into the Academy of Social Sciences and the 2019 Australian Psychological Society Distinguished Contribution to Psychological Science Award. She has produced 304 peer-reviewed publications, supervised 34 doctoral/PhD students, and has been lead or chief investigator on numerous Category 1 grants (direct research income exceeds $8M). She has collaborated with industry partners in every state and territory of Australia, and across many countries internationally (e.g., United States, Canada, Chile, Argentina). She is regularly called upon to contribute to the development of bench books and guidelines.

Centre for Investigative Interviewing (CII)

Despite a wealth of scientific knowledge in this field, there has been a consistent gap between recommended technique and actual practice. Most interviewer evaluation studies have revealed that professionals (irrespective of their discipline) do not interview in a way that is known to promote accurate and detailed recall. In an effort to improve this situation and spark a global revolution in the quality of interview training, Powell established a not-for-profit Centre for Investigative Interviewing. The Centre is a research and training hub comprised of a committed group of academics and admin staff. The core team is supported by collaborators across a diverse range of backgrounds, including police, government, industry, academic, education, legal, IT, and multimedia professionals. The Centre focuses on establishing evidence-based methods of teaching interviewing skills that will be sustained long-term. Learn more about the Centre.


Students will have full access to the online learning environment and a trainer for up to 12 months, until completion

Please Note:

  • If a Participant does not complete or pass the Course within 12 months of registration, access to the Course will cease, without further need for notification.
  • Within 4 weeks of the expiration of the 12-month period, the Participant may apply to UNB, in writing, to extend access to the Course for a 6-month period. An enrolment extension fee of $300 plus HST will apply. Upon receipt of extension fee, Griffith will grant the one-off extension of 6 months from expiration of the 12-month period.  If the Participant does not complete or pass the Course within the additional 6-month period, no further extension will be granted, and access to the Course will cease, without further need for notification.

For more information:

Phone: 506-453-3595

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