This module aligns with key elements of APNA’s “Communication Theory and Interpersonal Skills” (American Psychiatric Nurses Association Education Council, Undergraduate Branch, 2022).
- Therapeutic Communication
- Non-Therapeutic Communication
Module Learning Outcomes
- Summarize therapeutic communication techniques
- Summarize non-therapeutic communication techniques
- Therapeutic Communication
This module will review therapeutic communication techniques for non-therapeutic communication techniques. Nurses use therapeutic communication and to cultivate rapport and a therapeutic relationship with patients. Below is an overview of therapeutic versus non-therapeutic communication strategies.
See Sharma and Gupta (2022) for further reading.
Therapeutic Communication Strategies
Sharma and Gupta (2022) summarize therapeutic communication strategies. These include:
- Open-ended questions-ask open ended questions to learn more about the patient and enable a free-flow of information exchange; closed-ended questions can be used to focus on specific information
- Active listening-active listening involves behaviors such as making eye-contact and nodding
- Non-verbal indicators-be mindful of non-verbal indicators such as looking frequently at the clock/watch, toe-tapping, having an open body stance
- Silence-sitting with a patient during a difficult time and listening without interruption can be therapeutic
- Reflecting-the nurse repeats the patient’s communication back to them; encourages the patient to reflect on their feelings
Non-Therapeutic Communication Strategies
Summarization of Sharma and Gupta’s (2022) non-therapeutic communication include:
- Value judgements/Approval/Disapproval-avoid interjecting one’s biases and judgements, providing approval or disapproval of the patient’s thoughts or actions
- Negative body language-avoid crossing arms, appearing distracting, and standing over the patient during engagement/conversation
- Advice-avoid providing a patient advice on recommended action(s)
- False reassurance-avoid false reassurance; can lead to mistrust, especially in the case that an expected outcome is not realized
Level Up RN. (2022). Nurse/client relationship, therapeutic communication-psychiatric mental health nursing [Video]. YouTube. https://youtube.com/watch?v=t_59thyrje8&si=EnSIkaIECMiOmarE
You should have learned the following in this section:
- Use of therapeutic communication techniques and empathy helps the nurse build rapport and a therapeutic relationship with the patient
- Non-therapeutic communication actions can erode a therapeutic relationship
Empathy is putting yourself into the patient's shoes to allow the nurse's understanding of the situation from the patient's point of view.