5 Therapeutic Communication Techniques Every Nurse Should Use
5 Therapeutic Communication Techniques Every Nurse Should Use
If you want to become a nurse, you need to have the right communication skills. Here are 5 therapeutic communication techniques every nurse should have.
When nurses and patients have effective and healthy communication, patients are protected from possible harms that might take place due to misunderstandings. In fact, roughly one-third of the medical malpractice cases that involve nurses are due to breakdowns in communication.
Because of potential dangers, it is important for nurses to always be on top of their communication skills.
Instilling therapeutic communication techniques doesn’t just help nurses keep patients safe, it makes them feel like they are cared for and it builds trust.
To strengthen your nursing skills and make patients feel more secure, take continue reading. We’re here to help!
What Exactly is Therapeutic Communication?
Therapeutic communication techniques enlist a series of communication strategies that require nurses and other healthcare industry staff to prioritize the well being of patients in all areas such as mental, emotional, and physical.
Why Non-Verbal Communication is Important in Nursing
What a nurse verbally says is just as important as the things they silently say. So, understanding the degrees of verbal and non-verbal communication is especially beneficial to the job.
Let’s say a patient is describing their symptoms to you for example. Avoiding eye contact or crossing your arms and leaning back can make that person feel like you are disinterested.
On the other hand, when you lean forward, make eye contact, or even provide a comforting touch, the patient is more likely to feel valued and like their problems will be properly handled.
You should keep in mind that as part of non-verbal communication, you need to pick up on your patients’ non-verbal cues as well. If a patient isn’t making eye contact or is pacing the floor, it is possible that they are worried or have a concern that has not yet been addressed.
When you pay close attention to the patients’ cues, you can improve your verbal communication with them. For example, if a patient displays the behaviours listed above, you should open up the floor for them to speak.
Gently ask if there is something wrong or a problem they’d like to discuss.
Therapeutic Communication Techniques
Nurses are the main support system for patients who are in hospitals for long-term stays. And using therapeutic communication strategies can help them make scary, lonely, or stressful stays more pleasurable for patients.
Here are 5 therapeutic communication techniques you can start using with patients today.
1. Use Time and Sequence When Describing Events
When you ask your patients questions about a particular event, like when they began feeling symptoms, for example, use language that encourages them to recall the sequences of time. Doing so can help both you and your patient better understand the full situation.
Additionally, when patients think specifically about the sequence of events, they are often prompted to recount details they may have accidentally left out otherwise. Once the patient has given you the full details of a situation in sequential order, it’s helpful for you to summarize what they’ve said to you afterwards.
Wrapping up the conversation this way shows the patient that you care and are actively paying attention. But it also helps you to better document conversations for patients’ records.
Wrap up your summary by asking a question like “Did I get that right?”. This allows the patient an opportunity to correct you if necessary.
2. Build Trust
As a nurse, it’s important to give acceptance and recognition to your patients. This method of communication should still be applied even if you don’t necessarily agree with what they’re saying.
Simple gestures like nodding your head and saying “I understand” helps patients to feel like they are important and being taken seriously. Those feelings lead to establishing trust.
This is sometimes what is needed, especially when treating stubborn patients. The acceptance can make them more receptive to care.
Another important part of building trust is giving recognition. Recognition is a way of congratulating a patient on doing a good job without giving a direct compliment. Since direct compliments can sometimes come off as condescending, they should be avoided.
Instead, say something like “I noticed you took all of your medications on time today” with a smile can make a patient feel more secure and trusting when you’re around.
3. Give Patients the Chance to Direct the Conversation
An important fundamental of therapeutic communication is allowing patients to direct the way the conversation flows. To encourage that behaviour, you should start conversations with open-ended questions.
For instance, you can ask “What do you have on your mind today?” This will give patients a moment to express their individual thoughts and feelings.
And believe it or not, silence is another way to do this. When you pause after a statement, both you and your patient are given a moment to think through what needs to come next in the conversation.
This can also make it easier for a patient to change the topic to something significant to them. Try to let the patient be the one to break the silence in these situations.
4. Offer Yourself
No one stays in a hospital for fun. And hospital stays are often lonely and stressful.
When a nurse gives patients extra time outside of administering medications or checking patients’ vitals, the patients will feel cared for and feel a boost in mood. You don’t have to make this too complicated.
Simply sitting with a patient, watching a television show with them, or staying to chat during lunch can make a world of difference in a patient’s day.
5. Encourage Comparisons
Patients tend to rely on old experiences when it comes to dealing with current problems. When you encourage patients to continue doing so while speaking to you, you can help your patients come up with solutions.
Understanding therapeutic communication techniques is a vital part of a nurse’s job. It correlates directly with the quality of care each patient receives.
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