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The Therapeutic Communication Techniques Nurses Use



Therapeutic communication is an essential tool in nursing. This article explains the importance of this type of communication in nursing and provides nurses with some tips on how they can master it to help patients overcome or deal with the physical and mental elements of their health.

If you’re considering a career in nursing, this information can help to prepare you for the challenges and rewarding moments of your new role.

What is therapeutic communication?

Therapeutic communication is a type of communication nurses use to create a meaningful connection with their patients. It helps the patient gain a better understanding of their needs and assists them with getting through difficult times.

This communication goes beyond just talking and should be non-judgmental, respectful, and supportive to encourage the patient to be open and honest without fear of the reaction. As a nurse, you are expected to leave all personal opinions and biases out of the equation, although this takes practice and time to achieve.

With the ABSN online provided by Baylor University, you can learn more about the techniques you need to use for effectively communicating with patients. The program’s combination of online learning and in-person work placements covers everything you need to prepare you for a successful nursing career.

The importance of therapeutic communication in nursing

Therapeutic communication is important in nursing because the right approach can help to get through to even the most reluctant patients. It helps to build trust and a strong professional relationship with the patient.

If the patient feels nervous about seeking treatment, you can adapt your approach and start small until they feel more confident to open up about their physical and mental health problems.

Effective communication can lead to a better understanding of your patient’s needs, which means you can tailor a treatment plan to them and provide more effective care. It saves time and encourages a quicker diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, or an adaptation to a new way of life.

Using therapeutic communication reduces the stress and anxiety for the patient by getting to the root of the issues quicker and avoiding wasted attempts at inappropriate treatments. If you can make the right judgment call early on, patients are more likely to stick with the plan and be more responsive. Trying several options and having them all fail can have the opposite effect, so communication is important in helping the patient share vital information that can aid the process.

Types of therapeutic communication

There are several methods of therapeutic communication. Here are the most common and effective methods and how they help.

  • Active listening: Pay close attention to what the patient is saying without interrupting or trying to offer advice. Interruptions can disrupt the flow for the patient and make them lose their train of thought or change their mind about how much they share.
  • Mirroring: By repeating the patient’s words or phrases, you acknowledge and validate their feelings. This prevents them from feeling judged, showing them it’s okay to feel the way they do and that there is no right or wrong way to react.
  • Paraphrasing: If you summarize what the patient says, this ensures you have understood them and also reassures the patient that you’re listening, encouraging them to keep going. It’s also a good way to allow them time to take a breath and think of what they want to add, and it keeps your thoughts out of the conversation.
  • Open-ended questions: Ask questions that encourage the patient to share more information about their thoughts and feelings. Some information can feel personal, so asking questions where they can simply answer yes or no may give them an easy option when they feel uncomfortable, but it may not be accurate. Asking if they have experienced any problems is better than specifically asking about problems from a checklist.
  • Closed-ended questions: As you get a fuller picture of your patient’s health and personal situation, closed-ended questions can be used to wrap things up and clarify your information. This includes confirming what they’ve already told you or asking whether symptoms happen more at night or during the day if you think this is relevant.

How to improve your therapeutic communication

Like everything worthwhile, therapeutic communication needs to be learned and improved. There are several ways to do this.

Taking an online course that covers therapeutic communication is a great way to learn more about the different techniques used and how they can be applied in practice. You get to interact with the instructor and other students and contribute to the discussion, in which you ask and answer each other’s questions.

Even with online learning, you will often get the chance to have this interaction through online tutorials, forums, live chat, and more.

If you roleplay some of these techniques with a colleague or fellow student, it’s a great way to gain confidence in using them with patients. If this is someone you trust and whose opinion you respect, you should be able to offer each other constructive feedback and take this on board when practicing it in a real-life setting.

Books on communication can help you develop your understanding and skill set in this area. Although qualification and experience are the most important ways to improve, books are a great additional source to expand and refresh your knowledge. We all need a reminder occasionally, and as techniques are updated, it’s useful to stay up to date.

Therapeutic communication is an essential skill for nurses to master so that they can provide the best possible care for their patients.

By taking advantage of the resources mentioned above, nurses can become more confident in their ability to communicate effectively with patients, better understand their needs and increase the positive outcomes throughout their careers.