Therapeutic Communication in Nursing: Types & Examples

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  • 0:03 Therapeutic Communication
  • 1:11 Active Listening,…
  • 2:42 Talking, Privacy, &…
  • 4:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson defines therapeutic communication and how it benefits the nurse and patient. It then goes over several therapeutic communication techniques and discusses their importance.

Therapeutic Communication

Therapeutic communication, in short, is an interaction between a nurse and a patient that helps advance the physical and emotional health of the patient. Therapeutic communication is an active process. The nurse uses various strategies to help the patient express their ideas and feelings in a manner that establishes respect and acceptance. This, in turn, enhances the patient's comfort levels, encourages a feeling of safety, and increases their trust in the nurse. That's because good therapeutic communication helps the patient feel that someone truly understands and cares for them.

The nurse benefits from therapeutic communication as well. Such interactions help the nurse establish rapport with the patient, understand where the patient is coming from, exchange valuable information, and come up with individualized health-care intervention strategies that benefit the patient. A nurse who practices effective therapeutic communication also benefits from the knowledge that they helped someone in need as a result.

Therapeutic communication relies on two types of communication: verbal and nonverbal. Let's go over some examples of each.

Active Listening, Touch, & Space

A critical component of therapeutic communication is the art of active listening. Active listening involves both nonverbal and verbal communication. When actively listening, a nurse needs to hear and understand what the client is saying. That is, to some extent, the easy part. What's even more important is that the nurse properly interprets the meaning behind what the patient is verbalizing. In other words, what is the patient really saying?

Active listening involves verbal communication, such as when a nurse paraphrases what the client has said. It also includes nonverbal types of communication, such as good eye contact that is neither absent nor prolonged, as well as silence. An example of silence in active listening would be giving a patient some time to think through their thoughts if you believe they need it.

Another kind of nonverbal therapeutic communication technique is touch. This can give the patient the sense that you care for them. However, you must be careful with this. It's important that you are culturally aware as you engage in therapeutic communication with your patient. For instance, in some cultures, touch between strangers of opposite genders is strictly frowned upon.

Similarly, another important nonverbal communication technique is that of personal space. Different cultures and individual people will respond in various ways to the space between themselves and a nurse. For some, it's important the nurse is physically close to them. For others, the old saying 'too close for comfort' rings true.

Talking, Privacy, & Confidentiality

Communication is difficult without talking. Of course, the right words and manner of speech is critical to therapeutic communication. For instance, a nurse must be careful in choosing the words he or she uses. A lot of people do not understand complex medical terms nor the wider implications behind them with respect to their health. As such, it's critical that a nurse talks to the patient in a manner the patient can understand, but it's a fine balancing act. A nurse shouldn't talk down to the patient, either, because it might be interpreted as an insult. Speaking to someone as if they weren't able to understand will not foster a good relationship.

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