When most people think of nursing, they think about the practical things: how nurses care for patients and take their vitals in the hospital or before the doctor comes in for an appointment. Obviously, those skills are very important for any nurse to master. Communication, however, might just be the most important skill for nurses in any setting. We are going to discuss “Therapeutic Communication” in this article.
Therapeutic communication describes a medical communication style that goes beyond just greeting patients and asking how they’re feeling. It’s communication that is integrated into the patient’s therapeutic plan and helps to improve their experience and outcome.
So, how exactly does therapeutic communication help patients get well? Here are the top 5 goals of this communication style.
Develop Trust & Empathy
We’ve all heard the term “bedside manner” to describe a doctor or nurse’s communication style and ability to connect with patients. Most people appreciate a doctor who is friendly, empathetic and obeys privacy when discussing their health concerns, fears, and prognosis.
Patients have to be able to trust their healthcare team. If they don’t, they may not be forthcoming with important information or may not be able to relax in the office or hospital. Therapeutic communication fosters that trust and empathy that is so key in a patient-nurse or patient-doctor relationship.
Continual Learning & Growth
Nurses who thrive in the field long-term are those who constantly strive to learn and grow. They learn from their colleagues, their supervisors, and their patients. Learning can only occur when nurses are open-minded and take the time to listen to others.
Therapeutic communication helps to facilitate continual learning and growth by helping nurses to empathize, listen, and build awareness. Communicating with a diverse patient base helps nurses to become more and more empathetic and aware of the individual challenges facing patients. These interactions build over time, helping to make nurses even more effective and better able to connect with patients.
Patients aren’t always in a good state of mind when they’re in a medical facility and sometimes act out. They may be experiencing a mental health emergency or they might simply be in pain or scared. Additionally, their family members might exhibit problem behaviours because they are angry, afraid, and concerned about their loved one.
Nurses can’t always cope with problem behaviours on their own, but therapeutic communication can play an important role in de-escalating situations, managing behavior, and calming patients and their families down. A nurse skilled in communication can adapt to the situation and help to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Some patients simply need to feel heard and become frustrated when communication with their nurses is poor or limited.
Provide Patients with Actionable Relaxation Techniques
Hospitals are stressful environments. Patients may become agitated or panicked during their stay, which may jeopardize their progress and well-being or even cause a safety issue. A nurse who understands how to communicate effectively with patients, however, can help in these situations.
Nurses should understand basic breathing and mindfulness techniques that they can walk through with patients. Giving patients the tools to help them stay calm and quiet during their stay can make a big difference in their outcomes and overall experience.
Developing Patients’ Understanding of Health Concerns & Opportunities
Therapeutic communication is key for helping patients to feel safe and comfortable while they’re in the hospital or clinic. But it can also be used to help people live better, healthier lives. Patients feel more in control when nurses are transparent with them about their condition and what it could mean for the future.
Once a nurse has gained a patient’s trust, the patient will be more likely to listen to them and to take their advice. Nurses can use this opportunity to educate patients about their current health and well-being and about what they could do to live healthier life.
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Connecting with Patients
There are many different communication techniques nurses can use when working with patients. But in the end, the most important goal of therapeutic communication is connection. Nurses typically get into the field because they want to help people and to comfort the injured or sick.
Nurses are busy and often don’t have time to sit down for a long conversation. But medical professionals who keep the primary goals of therapeutic communication in mind are often able to develop strong connections and help each patient to feel safe and cared for during their stay—no matter how many patients they happen to be caring for.