A Guide to Therapeutic Communication in Nursing

nurse holing senior patient's hands and comforting her

Reviewed by Nicole Iannelli

The importance of effective communication in nursing goes far beyond speaking to your patient about their care. As a nurse, you are also responsible for communicating with patients in a therapeutic way. But, what does this mean? 

Effective therapeutic communication is a way to improve nurse-patient interaction, as well as build trust between the registered nurse and their patients. Nurses are meant to provide patients with that support and information while they are maintaining a professional distance and objectivity. Open-ended statements and questions are often used to help patients work through situations under the guidance of the clinical team. So, before sending your application to different travel nursing agencies, let’s brush up on effective therapeutic communication techniques. 

What are some therapeutic communication techniques?

There are 12 therapeutic communication techniques that every nurse should know. The following techniques can help you improve your communication with patients: 

  1. Use silence: Deliberate silence is a communication technique that can be exactly what is necessary for a stressful situation. This will provide the team the opportunity to comprehend a topic before moving on to the next.  
  2. Accepting: Listening and affirming that you have heard your patient is necessary for inpatient care. Keeping eye contact and a simple “yes, I understand” can go a long way. It makes your patients feel heard and in control of their care. 
  3. Affirm desired behaviors: Letting your patients know that you are aware of their efforts and acknowledgment of positive behaviors can go a long way. Rather than giving a compliment, giving recognition is more suitable. 
  4. Offering self: Hospital stays can be stressful and lonely at times for patients. Nurses offering up their time shows that they care and value their patients. Simply offering to stay for lunch or simply sitting with patients can boost their mood. 
  5. Ask open-ended questions: By asking open-ended questions, you are able to capture your patient’s thoughts and perceptions. 
  6. Active listening: Active listening is vital for effective communication. Simply maintaining eye contact or keeping the conversation moving with an “I hear you” shows the patients that you do care and are listening when they speak. 
  7. Seeking clarification: When communicating with a patient or patients’ family, you can ask for clarification when a topic is confusing. This, along with active listening is vital to an open line of communication between the nurse and the patient. 
  8. Placing the event in time or sequence: Getting a clearer sense of the whole picture can help with a care plan. Putting events in a sequence of when they happened in relation to others can be very important. 
  9. Share thoughts and observations: This proves to your patient that you are paying attention and encourages patients to keep sharing. 
  10. Read body cues: Pay attention to the patient’s body language, a simple smile can show that your patient understands what you are saying. 
  11. Recognize, acknowledge and accept: It is vital that patients feel respected and understood. Allowing patients to feel empowered can assist in building a positive nurse-client relationship. 
  12. Offering hope and humor: Sharing hope with patients can preserve a patient’s emotional status while they are in the hospital. Lightening the mood with humor can help keep patients in a positive state of mind. 

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How can nurses improve therapeutic communication?

Communication is key in the healthcare field, especially for nurses. As a nurse today, you are required to have exceptional communication skills in addition to clinical skills. Today’s nurses must be able to effectively communicate with doctors, other nurses, patients, and families, all while juggling the stressful demands of a clinical setting.

There is always room to grow your therapeutic communication skills. In our latest blog, we outlined ways you can improve your effective communication. While this is important in the clinical setting, therapeutic communication is more important for overall patient care. So, looking at how to improve therapeutic communication in nursing?

Here are a few ways you can improve your therapeutic communication skills as a nurse: 

  1. Improve Your Body Language
  2. Become a Better Listener
  3. Avoid Interruptions
  4. Exercise Patients
  5. Maintain Positive Attitude
  6. Keep Emotions in Check

How does Therapeutic Communication in nursing practice improve patient safety?

What is the importance of therapeutic communication in nursing? Patient safety is one of the most important aspects of nursing. While in a hospital or skilled nursing, the nurse is responsible for ensuring patient safety. The key to this is an open line of communication. 

Communication is the cornerstone of healthcare, and the way in which items are conveyed can impact overall patient care. When communicating with your co-workers, it should be done in an effective way with verbal, non-verbal, and written skills. It is vital that you are providing information as thoroughly as possible. However, when you are communicating with patients, this needs to be done in an honest and therapeutic way. This helps ease some of the stress for patients while they are in treatment. 

Some studies have shown that when clinicians communicate effectively, they are able to provide a safer and higher quality of care. Additionally, when nursing managers have an open door policy it can lead to a better work environment and a more positive moral. This can also lead to an overall more positive patient experience. 

Therapeutic Communication for Patient Care

Using the right therapeutic communication technique is key to the success of patient care. Techniques that every nurse already knows can be expanded upon to help build trust between fellow nurses, doctors, and patients. 

Ready to apply these therapeutic communication techniques? Speak with our team of recruiters today to learn about all of the locations our nurses are currently working in. 

Reviewed By: 

Nicole Iannelli, Human Resources Administrator– Nicole has worked for MAS Medical Staffing for over a year. She has 3 children and is recently engaged. While Nicole is not working, she loves hanging out with her family and friends.



  1. https://www.psqh.com/analysis/communication-critical-healthcare-competency/
  2. https://www.ultimatemedical.edu/blog/how-to-improve-your-communication-skills-as-a-nurse/
  3. https://tigerconnect.com/blog/17-therapeutic-communication-techniques-that-promote-quality-care/
  4. https://www.rivier.edu/academics/blog-posts/17-therapeutic-communication-techniques/




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