BlogCommunication SkillsWhat Is Therapeutic Communication: Steps to a Better Patient Experience

What Is Therapeutic Communication: Steps to a Better Patient Experience

Therapeutic communication is an integral part of the therapeutic process. However, it can be challenging to understand therapeutic communication without seeing it in action, so we will show you steps that will help improve your patient experience. First, let’s define therapeutic communication and what it means for therapeutic relationships.

What is therapeutic communication?

Therapeutic communication is a form of in-person communication that gives exceptional physical and emotional care to the patient. Professionals can utilize treatment communication with patients. Nurses must carefully decide on how they will appropriately answer the patient’s question and answer and gather as much data as possible for their medical team to consider. As soon as the patient cannot speak, it becomes necessary for the nurse to find someone to talk to the patient. Communication is an active process. Nurses must consider how well to answer patient questions while avoiding unnecessary errors in interpreting and collecting information for the medical team. This positive nurse-patient relationship may encourage an individual to follow the appropriate care plan.

Purposes of Therapeutic Communication Techniques

Therapeutic communications combine therapy and testing in one single process. It used observation and empathy skills to assess and manage a patient’s emotions in all phases of their life. Those emotions and actions should be managed by a. Most patients’ healing involves a series of tests. Therapeutic communication provides the same level of comfort as therapeutic healing. Doctors use therapeutic communications to strengthen patient-caregiver relationships while clinicians work efficiently effectively to enhance physical and emotional wellness. Through utilizing therapeutic communication methods, a nursing assistant can guide the patient compassionately to share the most relevant information for the patient.

Benefits of therapeutic communication

A patient’s feelings about their anxiety are often enhanced if they can speak with the physician about his concern and worries. Strong therapeutic communication can give nurses the sense of helping another patient feel better and offers patients feel that someone recognizes and cares about them. In addition, solid therapeutic touch can help nurses feel that the patient understands.

Using therapeutic communication to change patient lives

Therapeutic communication is not only a task or process that makes it easier to get people comfortable when receiving health care services. This action could help enhance health outcomes and help patients understand their current health care situation. Nurses who understand these therapeutic communications benefits can have a higher impact than those who don’t employ those techniques. As patient populations and needs are becoming complex and diverse in the future, this type of communication has become increasingly beneficial. Get more detailed information about the online master in nutrition programs at American Nurses University and its programs.

Patients with different cultural backgrounds

It can be challenging for nurses to develop therapeutic contact with people of different backgrounds. Sometimes patients will hold religious or ideological beliefs that contradict the medical care they receive. In-person professional interpretation is the commonly studied interpretation method and has been shown to improve the satisfaction processes in patients and services provided. This lets the interpreter combine visual stimuli to enhance the conversation. Professional interpreters describe a greater understanding of patients’ social and cultural backgrounds and a more remarkable ability to facilitate rapport when interpreting in person. In some situations, interpreter services appear to be very beneficial.

Techniques Therapeutic Communication

Below we listed some effective communication strategies used by healthcare professionals.

Use Silence

It’s sometimes advantageous to keep quiet. It may be beneficial for nurses and patients to have a period of silence while they think about and process what comes next in the discussion. It may allow patients time and room to discuss something new. Always give patients the chance to break the silence themselves.

Be Supportive and Empathic

Nurses want to make patients feel at ease. Using therapeutic communication techniques like empathy, active listening, and supportive statements can help accomplish this goal. This should be done undoubtedly and shows respect for the patient’s feelings without invalidating them or minimizing their concerns. It should not sound condescending or patronizing.

Empathy is the ability of a nurse to understand what patients are feeling and why they feel that way, even if it’s not something nurses have felt themselves before. Empathy helps them connect with their patients emotionally, which can create therapeutic communication opportunities for conversations about important health care decisions. By being empathic, nurses can understand the patient’s perspective and what they are going through.

Nurses who have therapeutic communication skills and empathy report that it enhances their ability to help patients feel better emotionally. It also helps them gain a deeper understanding of a person’s physical well-being, resulting in more accurate diagnoses for medical conditions when needed.

Use therapeutic communication skills to provide a better patient experience. Nurses who use therapeutic communication techniques report being able to help patients feel less anxious, confused, and frustrated throughout care interactions. They also have a heightened sense of well-being after those conversations because they feel supported by their health care professionals as the relationship develops over time. Using therapeutic communication helps to ensure health care decisions are made in patients’ best interest and enhances therapeutic relationships between nurses and their clients.

Use Open-Ended Questions

An open-ended inquiry, as previously said, elicits more and fuller information than a close-ended question that only requires a simple yes or no response. This therapeutic communication approach is particularly beneficial when the nurse wants more meaningful and more detailed information from the patient and assists the client’s complete and unfettered ventilation and expression of their feelings and ideas.

Use Active Listening

Take notes during every encounter, and don’t just jot down information; ask them how you can help them. Listen carefully to what your patients have to say, analyze their words, and empathize with them. Offer non-verbal cues such as nodding your head or smiling.

Convey your understanding of their situation and offer words of encouragement while you listen. Make sure they know that it’s okay to share with you, and let them realize what you do (not just what you say).

Focus on the Message Instead of the Messenger

Patients may be anxious about communicating sensitive or personal information in front of their nurse. They may feel like they are at risk of disclosing too much information or saying the wrong thing, making it difficult for them to open up with their health care provider.

Nurses need to separate themselves from what is happening and focus on how patients are feeling about certain situations rather than whether nurses agree or disagree with their thoughts. It is also important to remember that therapeutic communication is about the patients, not getting them to do what you want or trying to convince someone of something.

Be Supportive

When patients feel supported by their health care provider during therapeutic communication interactions, they are more likely to feel less confused and anxious while disclosing sensitive information because they feel like they have a therapeutic relationship with their nurse. In addition, the more comfortable and supported patients feel, the easier it is to disclose important information about their well-being.

Use Reflective Listening

Reflecting what your patient says helps you accurately understand what they are sharing without jumping to conclusions or making assumptions based on your thoughts and feelings. It is also therapeutic for the nurse to take a step back from what they are doing or saying, think about it objectively, and then provide feedback that clarifies their understanding of what was said without adding judgment.

Avoid Closed Questions

Closed questions only require a simple yes or no answer, so these types of inquiries do not elicit much if any, information from patients. Furthermore, closed questions can make it seem like you are trying to lead the patient in a particular direction and using therapeutic communication as a tool for manipulation rather than suggesting they do something genuinely therapeutic or beneficial.

Nurses should be aware of how often they use open-ended questions versus closed-ended questions. They can switch up their communication approach by asking more open-ended questions since this style helps elicit information from the patient that is necessary for understanding.

Avoid Asking Why

Asking why a person feels or acts in a certain way may seem like an innocent question, but it is considered closed questioning because there are only two possible answers. Furthermore, it can be perceived as judgmental if the nurse is trying to find out what caused a situation rather than focusing on therapeutic communication that helps move things forward for their patient.

Be Honest

Honesty goes hand-in-hand with therapeutic communication because without truthfulness and transparency between you and your patient, therapeutic communication interactions will not be effective. Nurses should never lie to their patients because even white lies may cause problems and lead the nurse into a therapeutic conversation that is counterproductive or confusing for them, making it more difficult for them to open up in the future.

Nurses need to remember these four steps when using communication with patients. If nurses can become skilled at communication, it will help them have more productive conversations with their clients and improve the patient experience.

Make Observations

Observations regarding patients’ appearance, demeanor, or behavior might assist draw attention to situations that may cause issues for them. For example, patients may be prompted to explain why they haven’t been getting much sleep lately if you remark that they appear weary; noting that they aren’t eating much might lead to finding a new symptom.


Finally, when a psychodynamic therapist uses this therapeutic communication technique, they ask if the feelings that the client is displaying are accurate. It reflects or mirrors the patient’s emotions back to him rather than words so that he may further explore and express them. For example, “You appear to be furious today” may be stated by a nurse after the patient has expressed anger.


Nurses frequently utilize summaries of what patients have stated after the fact. This establishes to patients that the nurse was paying attention and allows nurses to document conversations. In addition, ending a summary with “Does that sound correct?” permits patients to make changes if needed.


Stereotyping impedes successful communication and, in fact, all thinking and social interactions. Stereotyping involves generalized ideas and language that are not based on the individual’s individuality or uniqueness. When therapeutic communication is used for stereotyping, it can be harmful and result in inaccurate assumptions.

Nurses should never use communication to stereotype patients either because this could lead them to make incorrect treatment decisions or interact with the patient in a manner that may not be helpful. For example, asking an obese woman if she’s been dieting and exercising as a therapeutic communication approach may not be beneficial.

Avoid asking closed questions like “Are you feeling sad today?” or “Did something happen that made you feel this way?” because patients might only respond with yes or no answers, which does not provide nurses with the level of information they need to understand their patient’s situation better.

Offer hope

Hospitals may be frightening for patients, but sharing the hope that they will overcome their current difficulties and providing humor to lighten the mood can help nurses develop rapport fast. In addition, this technique can keep patients in a more optimistic mindset.

You should also see those blog posts:
Privileged Communication: All You Need To Know?
What is Dyadic Communication? The Power of Two
What is Technical Communication?


We hope this blog post has been helpful to you! If it was, please share it with your social media followers. Also, be sure to check out our other posts for more advice on making a patient’s experience better by using effective therapeutic communication techniques. And if you’re happy with what we’ve shared here and want some bonus content, feel free to read through the rest of our blog as well!

Professional consultant and project manager in software houses. He has over 8 years of experience as a project manager for key clients. Currently mainly works on business consulting and communication with strategic clients. Privately a fan of good food, board games, and cycling. He loves to share his experience with new people!

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