Communication is one of the most important ways health practitioners build trust with their patients. Effective communication between a healthcare professional and their patient is essential for providing optimal patient care. Having said that, there are several tried-and-tested therapeutic communication techniques that can assist in developing a therapeutic relationship with patients and improving their quality of care. This article will walk you through a variety of therapeutic communication techniques that will help you in your clinical practice, whether you are a registered nurse, mental health professional, physiotherapist or holistic doctor.
Why are therapeutic communication skills important?
Therapeutic communication is a form of psychotherapy in which the therapist uses his or her knowledge and skills to help clients resolve their problems. Therapists use various techniques such as empathy, validation, acceptance, clarification and problem-solving to facilitate change.
Using the right communication style will enable healthcare providers to focus on improving the quality of life for their patients by assisting them in overcoming their negative emotions and other psychological issues. Because the goal of therapy is to assist clients in improving their lives through self-awareness, insight and personal growth, every health professional must be equipped with essential therapeutic communication skills.
Therapeutic communication is an effective way to treat mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and trauma. This method helps clients develop coping strategies and gain a better understanding of themselves.
What are the benefits of using therapeutic communication techniques?
Therapeutic communication is essential for patients and their healthcare providers to establish interpersonal relationships. When patients have the time and space to express their concerns and worries to a health professional, they tend to feel more empowered. Effective communication style is the best therapeutic technique because it gives health professionals the feeling that they are actively helping their patients feel better, and it makes patients feel that someone genuinely understands and cares about them. Other benefits of using effective communication in a therapeutic process include:
- Enhances patient care
- Improves the quality of communication between healthcare workers and patients
- Breaks down language barriers in the clinical setting
- Improves the verbal communication, as well as nonverbal, between healthcare professionals and their patients
Types of therapeutic communication techniques
Therapeutic communication employs a wide range of techniques to assist patients with varying needs. Some patients may express their needs verbally, but others prefer nonverbal communication, which can be both challenging and rewarding if you can decipher what one couldn't express verbally.
The following are the most commonly used techniques:
Keep an eye out for your patient's nonverbal cues. A nod with a smile may indicate that your patient understands what you're saying, whereas no facial expression or silence may indicate that they are confused or disagree with what you've said.
Showing interest in what patients have to say, acknowledging their ideas, and engaging with them throughout the conversation are all examples of active listening.
Asking open-ended questions
Such questions entail more than a simple yes or no response. Open-ended questions allow patients to express their opinions or feelings towards their pain or ailment. You can direct your open-ended questions to obtain the information you require.
The goal of clarification is to ensure that you understand the patient without bias or assumptions. Some effective methods include paraphrasing or repeating what the patient said in your own words, as well as asking follow-up questions in a gentle tone of voice.
Sometimes, it can be beneficial to not speak at all. Wilful silence allows both practitioners and patients to think about and process what should be discussed next. Also, it gives patients the opportunity to bring up a new topic that they find relevant to their case.
Communication is more than just talking; it is an effective therapeutic process when used correctly. It can be used to explain healing procedures, decipher unspoken messages, relieve emotional pain and enable patients to create their own healing space. Honing your therapeutic communication skills is without a doubt worth the time, money and effort, whether you are a practising natural health practitioner or studying to be one.