By TigerConnect on April 15, 2020
Therapeutic communication techniques are a standard part of nurse and therapist training. That makes sense, because:
Given all the time nurses and therapists spend with patients, these clinicians are in the best position to:
To do all that for their patients, nurses and therapists must understand and use the best therapeutic communication techniques.
Purposes of Therapeutic Communication Techniques
Before we look at any therapeutic communication techniques, we should understand why a nurse or therapist ought to bother with them. Because frankly, they’re hard work.
Let’s say you’re a nurse, and you want to help a patient get well. You could simply tend to tasks like changing sheets, taking vitals, bringing meds, and helping the patient to the bathroom.
But that would be basic patient care. You want to provide quality care.
Quality care goes beyond just completing tasks for your patient. Quality care means interacting with your patient to learn how their healing is progressing, then tailoring your behavior to suit the unique physical and emotional needs of your patient, at that moment.
And that’s where therapeutic communication comes in.
By using therapeutic communication methods, a nurse can respectfully and compassionately lead a patient to share the most pertinent information about:
The healing process for most patients involves a collection of clinical tests and treatments. But for many patients, therapeutic communication contributes just as much to their overall healing.
You can think of it like this: Clinical tests look at physical attributes to assess the organs, structure, and systems of the physical body, and clinical treatments seek to fix problems found by the tests.
Therapeutic communication combines testing and treatment in a single process. It uses observation and empathic skills to assess and manage the patient’s emotions, determination, feelings, and attitude – their spirit and soul.
The purpose of therapeutic communication, then, is to help clinicians build trust with patients while also helping clinicians and patients collaborate efficiently and effectively toward the patient’s physical and emotional wellness.
17 Therapeutic Communication Techniques
In some interactions with patients, clinicians are simply being friendly. But in many interactions, clinicians are trying to achieve a clinical objective. Therapeutic communication techniques play a leading role in reaching the clinical objective.
To get maximum effectiveness from therapeutic communication techniques, clinicians should follow three steps:
When a clinician is skillful with therapeutic communications, they can develop a therapeutic relationship with their patient. Through that relationship, the clinician becomes more effective at recognizing and influencing meaningful changes in the patient’s physical, mental, and emotional state.
And remember, therapeutic communications are not restricted to face-to-face encounters. Technology brings more opportunities to use therapeutic communication techniques.
We’ve been using phones and email for years. More recent developments allow clinicians and patients to connect via secure texting and video conferencing. These technologies are especially helpful for patients with chronic conditions that require routine monitoring, and also for post-op patients who need follow-up care. Clinicians can build and strengthen their relationship by using these technologies to more frequently apply their therapeutic communication skills — even when patients have left the hospital or clinic.
According to the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, therapeutic communications are marked by “an attitude of respect, dignity, and empowerment.”
Sure, it’s a challenge. Nurses and therapists are asked to be always “on” and ready to pour their best mental and emotional energy into their communications while simultaneously offering their best clinical knowledge and skills.
But the rewards are massive. When nurses and therapists take their valuable clinical training and skills, add targeted therapeutic communication techniques, and take advantage of new ways to bring patients into the conversation, then we and the people we care about receive better care with fewer missteps, and our healing is faster and more complete.
Tags: therapeutic communication, nurse client relationship, active listening, therapeutic relationship, communication techniques, encourage the client, eye contact, recognition acknowledgment, therapeutic communication techniques