Nursing & Therapeutic Communication

Written by lani thompson
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Nursing & Therapeutic Communication
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Therapeutic communication is a technique nurses use to promote and enhance the physical and emotional well-being of their patients. Its purpose is threefold: to collect information, assess and change behaviour, and to educate. Nursing schools teach a number of techniques to help nurses communicate with their patients in a supportive and therapeutic manner.

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Moments of silence give the nurse and patient time to sort their feelings and think about what's already been communicated. The nurse should let the patient break the silence.


Nurses can share in a number of ways. Sharing observations such as "you look tired" can encourage a patient to talk, reported a writer in the article "Therapeutic Communication Techniques" on the Napa Valley College website. Sharing empathy communicates understanding, while sharing humour gives a feeling of togetherness and friendliness. Finally, when a nurse shares hope, she gives her patient a sense that something can be done.

Using Touch

Touching is a powerful way to communicate. It can relax or comfort a patient. Nurses need to be sensitive to patients and ascertain whether touching is acceptable, since some patients may feel threatened by it.

Asking Questions

Asking relevant questions allows the nurse to gather important information. A nurse should ask only one open-ended question at a time. An example is "What is your biggest problem right now?"


Some techniques are non-therapeutic and block communication. Nurses should not ask personal questions, give personal opinions, change the subject or give false reassurances. Neither should they argue, offer approval or disapproval, or ask for explanations.

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