Communication Techniques in HealthCare: Therapeutic Approach


Therapeutic Communication is a holistic method of communication that creates a sense of well-being in patients and can improve a patient’s health and mental well-being dramatically. Doctors, Nurses, Nurse Assistants and Medical professionals in general can use therapeutic communication techniques with patients in a manner that makes them feel comfortable and secure, in a time when the patient may be under great stress, physically and mentally.

We at PCT consider this one of the most vital skills a medical professional can have, and absolutely should continue to improve upon throughout the duration of their career.

What is the Importance of Therapeutic Communication in Healthcare?

The term ” Therapeutic Communication (TC)” is often used in the field of nursing; however, the process is not limited to nursing. Other healthcare professionals, friends and family members of a patient can implement the strategies of communicating in a therapeutic manner. The ideal therapeutic exchange provides the patient with the confidence to play an active role in their healthcare.

Facilitates client autonomy:

TC techniques, such as active listening infer independence on the patient. Rather than making assumptions about the patient who is almost a stranger, the healthcare professional facilitates therapeutic expression. Therefore, the patient will become more comfortable to share potentially difficult information. Then, the healthcare professional uses this information to help the patient to further investigate their own feelings and options. In the end, the patient gains more confidence in making decisions regarding their healthcare.

Creates a nonjudgmental environment:

Perhaps the most important characteristic of a therapeutic relationship is the development of trust. Trust facilitates constructive communication; it also encourages confidence and autonomy. Being nonjudgmental is necessary in verbal and nonverbal communication. People are acutely adept at identifying nonverbal cues that may communicate something very different from what is said.

Provides the therapist with a holistic view of their patient:

An individual does not usually exist without a network of family, friends and healthcare professionals. TC emphasizes a holistic view of a person and their network of people who provide support. A person’s individual perspective regarding their health and life is viewed through a lens built from the context of their experiences. Those experiences cannot be ignored when communicating in a way that is therapeutic. Within the therapeutic relationship, the individual is learning the skills of communication with other people in their life; also improving those relationships, simultaneously, too.

• Reduces the risk of unconscious influence by the therapist:

It is human nature to want to infer some part of yourself into an interaction; however, in order for TC to occur, it is important for the therapist to temper their influence. TC requires maintaining an acute awareness of what is being said as well as any nonverbal cues. Communicating while a therapist is ready to what a person has to say while folding their arms creates confusion and inconsistency that can distort a healthy interaction. A therapist must be aware of their tone of voice and any reactions; the quality of a therapeutic relationship depends on the ability of the healthcare provider to communicate effectively.

What are the Therapeutic Healer Main Skills?

Empathy: Feeling the patient’s emotions can generate a compassionate and therapeutic environment in which the patient can feel secure and recognize that the therapist is listening rather than evaluating them. When the patient lowers his defenses and feels like he is actually relating his current disposition, he is more inclined to expose a profound level of emotion.

Authenticity: Exhibiting genuine thoughts and emotions in the therapeutic approach and gaining insight into the patient requires the therapist to also be in touch with their own feelings. A clinician must be a real human being with real thoughts, real feelings, and real problems. In order for an effective therapeutic patient-centered relationship to form, a therapist must be sensitive and honest in their communication.

Unconditional Positive Regard: it means to show the patient that no matter what they do, the therapist respect for them remains the same. Yet, the therapist continue to reveal the desire for their patient to move towards healing. This notion of therapy assures the patient that they may examine and express any of their thoughts or feelings without the threat of being criticized or disregarded.

What Are the Benefits of Therapeutic Communication?

Health professionals use TC process to emphasize explicit, nonjudgmental interactions that permit individuals to feel a sense of security as they share their emotions.

This process encourages positive interaction: showing compassion toward patients encourages genuine concern and interest in the well-being of others and teaches patients how to interact with their peers in a constructive manner.

TC supports personal accountability: by providing the patient with the tools they need to acknowledge and the challenges they face, and by teaching them how to improve their life situations, a therapist empowers the patient to become more cognizant of their own behavior and to self-correct it. This process increases the likelihood that a client will respond competently in learning to cope with their disorder, regulate their mood, develop their self-confidence and improve their relationships.

TC promotes openness: empathy in therapy encourages a client to develop and reinforce beneficial therapeutic tools: honesty, open communication and self-confidence. The use of therapeutic interaction allows a patient to learn how to arrive at their own decisions and conclusions while reaffirming their confidence in their ability to make significant determinations.

Examples of Therapeutic Communications:

1. Restating: Restating what the patient has said shows them that the nurse has listened and understood what they have said. It may also give the patient a new perspective on their situation.

• Patient: “I won’t ever be able to use this electric wheelchair!”
• Nurse: “You’re concerned that you won’t be able to use the devices on your new wheelchair.”

2. Open-Ended Question: the psychiatrist asks the patient an open-ended question to facilitate the opportunity for a broad response. As opposed to a closed-ended question, this type of communication avoids the perception of judgment and allows the patient to speak what is truly on their mind regarding the topic.

• Psychiatrist: “What kind of relationship did you have with your mother?”
• Patient: “She was horrible to me but good to my brother and I was the one who tried to please her.”

A closed-ended question may be non-therapeutic in this circumstance:

• Psychiatrist: “Did you have a good relationship with your mother?”
• Patient: “It was all right.”

3. Stating Observations: the therapist may make an observation when they notice that the patient is not talking about how they feel. This may help the patient verbalize their feelings.

• Therapist: “You seemed angry with your son today.”

• Patient: “Yes, he really hurt my feelings by telling people that I am crazy. Who does he think he is? I worked 12 hours a day putting him through school and now he treats me like this!”

4. Acceptance: The doctor may use verbal and nonverbal cues to convey unconditional acceptance of the patient’s feelings. This allows the patient to feel understood and comfortable to continue to explain their feelings. Not arguing with the patient’s point of view gives them the opportunity to fully consider the issue without feeling defensive.

• Patient: “I am so disappointed that my husband put me in this nursing home.”

• Doctor: “I understand.” The doctor makes eye contact with the patient and nods his head.

• Patient: “I guess I can sort of understand it. His arthritis keeps him in a lot of pain, making it hard for him to take care of me.”

5. Silence: Being silent gives the patient an opportunity to consider their thoughts.

The psychiatrist is silent or says, “I will sit quietly with you; I can tell you have something serious on your mind.”

As previously mentioned, Therapeutic Communication is very important, and fortunately, it is not limited to healthcare workers. One’s friends and family can be their counselors. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure; thus, building a healthy family can prevent several psychological disorders. Undoubtedly, getting along with family members can be a challenge; nevertheless, speaking directly, holding family meetings and mindful listening are simple yet effective basic communication skills that can hold a grip of several problems before they worsen.

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