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Therapeutic Communication Techniques

Omkar Phatak Jul 25, 2020

Therapeutic communication is about healing and bringing about positive change, through open communication with a patient, who is suffering. Let's see different types of communication techniques used by psychotherapists and psychiatric nurses to help their patients.
The problems and the maladies of the body are sometimes easily curable, but the problems of a mind are not that easily solved. To put together the pieces of a fragmented and shattered mind and help it heal itself, therapeutic communication is required. A person can only get better and gain his confidence back, when he strives to do so, on his own.

What is Therapeutic Communication?

It is caring and healing through communication. The objective is to slowly guide a patient through the messed up situation he/she is in and help him/her overcome it.
The job of psychiatric nursing and psychotherapy is vital, as people are increasingly falling prey to depression and hollowness inside, even though they live a life of material abundance and have opportunities like never before.
The job of a therapist is to help a patient get to the root cause of his problems, through a process of introspection, guided by the therapist. That is why, a therapist needs to be non-judgmental and create an atmosphere, where the patient lets down his guards and communicates openly due to the trust he develops in the therapist.
Therapists need to have a range of communication techniques, which help them in dealing with patients with myriad personalities and problem patterns.
One of the most important things is that a therapist needs to be sincere and take genuine interest in the person, whom he is trying to help. He needs to walk a thin line of empathy for the patient, while still not letting that affect his objective thinking and analysis of the patient's problems.
Studying transcripts or therapeutic communication examples can help in gaining insight into how the art of reaching through the defenses of a patient, is practiced. Study of similar cases is very important as it can give extra clues, that may hint towards a solution.
A patient recovering from a debilitating illness needs encouragement and a lot of care from the nursing staff. Positive body language like a smile and demeanor which makes the patient feel cared, can bolster the healing process of a patient. Therapeutic communication in nursing is aimed at healing the mind, while medicines only cure the body.

Types of Techniques

Here are the major types, that make it easier for the patient to open up and the therapist to gain insight into what is the source of a patient's problems.

Undivided Attention and Listening

Giving your undivided attention to a patient, when he talks, is very important. Listening intently to what he says and being sympathetic and encouraging through eye contact and body language, helps a lot.
He should feel that you want to listen to him and are genuinely trying to understand his problems. These non-verbal cues are crucial in the initial phase of therapy, in creating an encouraging atmosphere.

Reflecting Thoughts

One of the subtlest techniques is reflecting. A patient's statement is redirected towards him through similar wording which makes him think about it again, from another perspective.

Sharing and Encouraging Interaction

One way of helping and connecting with a patient is to share your own personal experiences with him. This will encourage him to share his own experiences and problems more easily.

Direct Questioning and Problem Solving

This is the straightforward process, where based on the facts and information, gained through questions about problems of the patient, the therapist makes concrete suggestions about possible suggestions. This approach can only work in case of certain specific kinds of problems.

Identifying Inconsistencies and Contradictions

Through the way of conversation, the therapist must identify the inconsistencies and contradictions in the thinking of the patient. He must also subtly point out behavioral patterns and habits, that are wrong and causing harm.
One needs to quietly go on emphasizing the importance of a behavioral change and bring the patient to the point where he acknowledges that he needs to change to get better.
These were some of the techniques employed by therapists. There is no perfect communication technique for therapy. Every person is different and a therapist needs to explore various ways of reaching out to him.
Children are some of the toughest people to reach out and so are some grown ups. All you need is empathy and a non-judgmental caring attitude, backed by sincere concern.