What is Therapeutic Communication?
Therapeutic communication is a way for medical professionals to understand their clients’ needs by helping them express themselves in a meaningful and helpful way. It’s also knowing how to ask for information from the client, and share it back in a way that makes sense to them.
The main goal of therapeutic communication is to support clients as they make sense of their medical conditions and treatments.
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Therapeutic Communication Techniques
With the right techniques, you can help clients feel like they are in control of their own treatment plans. It’s all about building trust with clients and adding to your personal experience as a nurse.
Here are common therapeutic communication techniques used in nursing that you can incorporate into your own practice:
Giving Clarification – This involves explaining to clients what is expected of them, how they can meet those expectations, and the reasons for their treatment plan options. You can also go into the side effects of a medication or therapy and how to treat them if they occur.
Active Listening – When you listen to a client, repeat back what you heard in your own words, and check for understanding.
Giving Recognition – This is one way to show appreciation for the client when meeting their goals. For example, you can compliment the client on how far they’ve come, or praise them for something they did that helped them accomplish their medical goals.
Sharing Humor – Humor is one of the most powerful tools a nurse can use in therapeutic communication. As a nurse, you can use humor to break down barriers and create an atmosphere where it’s safe for the client to open up about their feelings.
Using Silence – Silence can also be used as an alternative to saying something that might not be helpful. Since it gives clients time to process information, it also gives nurses time to think about how best to respond.
It’s crucial to avoid:
- Giving opinions or personal experiences
- Minimizing clients’ feelings
- Giving false reassurance
- Asking, “Why?”
When asking clients questions, make sure they’re open-ended. What this looks like in practice:
- Exploring emotions and gathering more information.
- Repeating client words to confirm what you understand (restating).
- Returning focus on the client (reflecting).
And when stating facts, you want to make closed-ended comments. What this looks like in practice:
- Presenting reality by refuting misconceptions or delusions.
- Suggesting resources or strategies.
- Offering guidance.
Open-ended questions are not simply “yes” or “no” questions but elicit an in-depth response. Closed-ended comments are stated facts used to portray empathy, build trust, and further assess needs.
During my exam, I could literally see and hear him going over different areas as I was answering my questions.
This past Friday I retook my Maternity Hesi and this time, I decided for my last week of Holiday break to just watch all of his OB videos. I am proud to say that with Mike’s help I received a score of 928 on my Maternity Hesi!
Therapeutic Communication Examples
These examples include emotion-based questions, stating facts, and both:
- “Tell me when you started noticing …”
- “Tell me what concerns you have …”
- “What are you feeling right now?”
- “How are you feeling about your baby?”
- “We have the vital signs under control”
- “You must be very upset after experiencing this”
- “I understand you are worried”
- “You sound very discouraged & scared.”
- “You sound angry. Anger is a normal feeling associated with loss.”
- “This experience has been overwhelming for you. What are you feeling right now?”
- “Clients with cancer experience fear of dying, tell me about your concerns.