Therapeutic communication ~ Let's talk about it!

Last week, during RNchat, a twitter chat for nurses, the discussion turned to the importance of communication. I was reminded that communication is not just talking, but listening. How often do you find yourself talking with someone and not hearing anything they say because you’re thinking of what you’ll say next? I find myself doing that often and even though I make a conscious effort NOT to do that, it seems to happen anyway!

I thought it might be a good time to review those therapeutic communication techniques we learned way back (for me anyway!) in nursing school. At the time, I thought it was silly to practice restating what my fellow nursing student (playing the role of patient) was saying. Later I realized that these techniques really do help patients focus and share information. Here we go:

  • Silence - Moments of silence encourage the patient to continue talking.
  • Facilitation - Use phrases such as “Please continue,” “uh-huh,” and “go on” to encourage the patient to continue.
  • Confirmation - This ensures that you and the patient are on the same track. Use a phrase such as “If I understand you correctly, you said….”
  • Reflection - Repeating what the patient just said can help you get more specific information. A patient might say “I feel so alone.” You can reply, “You feel so alone?” He might say, “Yes, I feel so alone since my wife died and my children moved away.”
  • Clarification - Give the patient an opportunity to explain his statements by using a phrase such as “What do you mean when you say…?”
  • Summarization - Restating information the patient gave you ensures that the information you’ve collected is accurate and complete.

Oh - and don’t forget about watching for nonverbal cues and using open-ended questions! What other techniques do you use to get patients talking?

Reference: (2008). Assessment made incredibly easy!, (4th ed.) Ambler, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Posted: 7/18/2010 7:55:29 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 4 comments

January 28. 2010 01:59
I am teaching some Psych clinicals this semester and I just went over these therapeutic techniques with my students. I dug out my old handouts from when I was in nursing school that had good examples of these techniques to share with the students. I tell my students that these techniques will help them not only in their clinicals, but also in their everyday lives once they start putting these into practice. I often find myself not listening to what someone is saying to me and thinking about what I am going to say next, which is not what you should do. Thanks for sharing these.
2/13/2015 7:59:39 PM

Gregory Despain
April 22. 2010 15:18
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2/13/2015 7:58:46 PM

Nursing license
February 22. 2012 09:17
This blog is nice and amazing. I love your post! It's also nice to see someone who does a lot of research and has a great knack for ting, which is pretty rare from bloggers these days.
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2/13/2015 7:58:08 PM

Pokerseiten Vergleich
March 23. 2012 12:01

techniques will help them not only in their clinicals, but also in their everyday lives once they start putting these into practice
2/13/2015 7:57:27 PM