As nursing students, graduating nursing students, nurses, and other medical professional or even regular everyday people, communication is vitally important in ensuring the successful establishment and nurturing of relationships between individuals. Ineffective communication can lead to the degradation of any relationship, which can ultimately result in broken relationships, lost jobs, and other negative consequences. Therapeutic communication is a practice that allows effective rapport-building between the medical personal, regardless of current role, and the patient. What follows are some guidelines for the do's and don'ts of effective therapeutic communication. Using these guidelines will help promote the sharing of ideas and feelings the client may have.
Starting with the dos of therapeutic communication, actively listening is an essential nursing skill to have. This skill does not just refer to listening to what the patient is saying verbally, but paying close attention to their body language, seeing what you might discern from how they hold themselves, what their hands are doing, their facial expression, etc. When actively listening, it's most effective to be sitting, facing the client, being relaxed, with open body posture, and making eye contact. Many of the other therapeutic communication skills can be listed under actively listening.
Sharing your observations about your client to them, presenting your feedback in a positive manner, is another form of therapeutic communication. Such observations present a means of opening dialogue between yourself and the client, and also allows the client to address any deficits or concerns they may have, as well as if they are doing better than before. Such observations might include, "You look tired", "I haven't seen you eat anything today", or "You sound like you're improving." When sharing observations with your client, always give them ample opportunity to express their concerns or thoughts about them.