Nursing is a profession with immense responsibility. A nurse can heal a patient through her care and undivided attention. For patients in existentially difficult and life threatening situations, nursing practice requires close intimacy. A thriving and warm patient-nurse relationship is a prerequisite for effective nursing and by itself can contribute to the healing process of a patient. Therapeutic patient-nurse relationship allows nurses to build strong relationships with their patients by showing respect, warmth and empathy. This paper reflects on the utilization and development of interpersonal skills that aid in establishing and maintaining therapeutic nurse-patient relationships.
Neal (100) states that therapeutic relationships arise from the needs of the patient for guidance, assistance and care. The aim of such a relationship is to meet the needs of the patients at all times. Therapeutic and interpersonal relations are at the center of the nursing profession. These relationships are the source of energy and strength that gives the motivation to continue with treatment and face threatening medical scenarios. According to Bridge (2), communication plays a key role in therapeutic relationships. Different forms of communication such as giving patients a chance to express how they feel, asking questions politely, or a reassuring touch increases patient’s wellbeing and satisfaction.
Communication encompasses many things such as play, touch and enthusiasm. Touch is crucial as it shows the patient that the nurse is attentive and a good listener. Touch can mean many things; touch is a mean of non-verbal communication. Touching a patient is a kind and caring way of showing and sharing warmth. Holding a patient’s hand or giving them a hug when they are anxious or upset may help to reassure them that everything is fine. However, a nurse should know all the boundaries of individual patients, as not all of them feel comfortable when touched (Nichols 700).
Silence is another form of non-verbal communication that gives the nurse and the patient space to reflect on future or prior happenings throughout the care process. However, it is vital for the nurse to meet the current needs of the patient promptly; much focus should be on them. Silence also gives the patient time to recollect his or her thoughts; patients need time to think of their next response. During the silence period, it is advisable that the nurse involves the patient in other forms of communication.
There are many elements that define a thriving therapeutic relationship between a nurse and a patient; however, it is vital to understand that such an interaction is a formal relationship between the patient and the medical professional (Neal 102). Nurses must maintain professional boundaries when dealing with the patient. Therapeutic interactions are all about the patient disclosing personal and sometimes painful feelings with a nurse at a safe emotional distance to involve the nurse and objective enough to draw help from the nurse. These actions require respect, confidentiality and trust, which are important elements of therapeutic relationships (Nichols 304).
Empathy, which refers to a nurse’s ability to understand and recognize the feelings of the patient and their point of view, is another element of the therapeutic relationship (Nichols 93). Verbal empathy conveys compassion, concern and caring for the wellbeing of the patient. Listening is yet another element of patient-nurse therapeutic relationships.
By being sensitive, a good listener, using non-verbal communication such as gestures, facial expressions and touch, and verbal communication such as open-ended questions to drive conversation, talking to the patient, and giving the patient space, the patient will feel loved, appreciated and important. Without a doubt, the above elements of the therapeutic relationship are vital to the nursing profession.
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