Reaching Out to Your Patients

nurse with patientThe success of any treatment in the healthcare system (be it in the hospital, community or any other setting) especially for psychiatric setting not only lies on the effectiveness of the drugs/ interventions done, but also in the ability of the nurse to establish a therapeutic relationship with the patient.

A therapeutic relationship between the patient and the members of the health team is especially crucial in determining what interventions should be done and/or what needs to be re-evaluated. The ability to establish such relationship is one of the important skill a nurse develops over time.

In psychiatric nursing, nurses learn about the components for appropriate establishment of the therapeutic relationship:

  • TRUST.- Trust is the foundation in every relationship. In order to build a connection with the patient, the nurse must first overcome a communication barrier by earning a patient’s trust. In this manner, assessment data will be accurate which is very crucial to determine the needed interventions that the patient need. Trust can be earned even with simple gestures, as long as the actions of the nurse conveys integrity and reliability, it will be a good start. “Say what you do and do what you say.” In order to enhance trust, you have to be congruent with what you say to the patient, like: if you say that you’ll be back at a certain time, you should keep your word. Even if that statement is simple to you, remember that patients take it seriously.
  • GENUINE INTEREST.- Caring is the heart of nursing. Everyday nurses face different patients with different problems. Though the work is exhausting and very tiring, nurses don’t give up. No matter how tired they may be after a day’s work, nurses never fail to show their genuine interest in helping their patients. People have this certain ability to know when someone is showing genuine interest or not, judging by that someone’s actions and words. If we have that kind of ability, our patients also have it. When dealing with patients nurses have to have genuine interest and concern for their respective patient in order for them to understand him/her more.
  • EMPATHY. – Considered as one of the important skill a nurse nust develop in a therapeutic relationship is the ability of the nurse to perceive the clients’ feelings and communicate the understanding with the patient. The patient being able to share feelings without worry and the nurse listening closely to understand, also known as “the gift of self”, influence the success of the outcomes.
  • ACCEPTANCE.- Acceptance to the patient happens when the nurse avoids judgment, no matter what behavior the patient has. This doesn’t mean that the nurse accepts unappropriate /unacceptable behavior but rather, the nurse recognize it and set boundaries for their nurse-patient relationship, so both involved knows where they stand.
  • POSITIVE REGARD.- Positive regard has been defined as the unconditional nonjudgmental attitude of the nurse to the patient regardless of background or any other factor, and this act  implies respect to the patient. Patients appreciate it when the nurse considers their ideas, that they are regarded as equal, being able to contribute for his/her own plan of care.
  • SELF AWARENESS AND THERAPEUTIC USE OF SELF. – As nurses, just imagine this: how can you offer help to other people when you can’t seem to understand yourself?Before you can help others and before you get involved in a therapeutic relationship with a patient you have to help yourself first. You have to be self-aware. Self-awareness happens when you develop an understanding of your own set of values, beliefs, feelings, attitudes—one’s own value system. When you are able to do this, you learn more about yourself, and you can now use aspects of yourself to establish a therapeutic relationship with a patient.

When you know these components, I know you wouldn’t have any difficulties in reaching out to your patients and make every working relationship a success–both to your benefit, providing best results.

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