Therapeutic communication techniques

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Gives the client the opportunity to collect and organize thoughts, to think through a point, or to consider introducing a topic of greater concern than the one being discussed

Using Silence


“Yes, I understand what you said.” Eye contact; nodding.

Conveys an attitude of reception and regard.



Acknowledging; indicating awareness; better than complimenting, which reflects the nurse’s judgment.
“Hello, Mr. J. I notice that you made a ceramic ash tray in OT.” “I see you made your bed.”

Giving Recognition


Making oneself available on an unconditional basis, increasing client’s feelings of self-worth.
“I’ll stay with you awhile.” “We can eat our lunch together.” “I’m interested in you.”

Offering Self


Allows the client to take the initiative in introducing the topic; emphasizes the importance of the client’s role in the interaction.
“What would you like to talk about today?” “Tell me what you are thinking.”

Giving Broad Openings


Offers the client encouragement to continue.

“Yes, I see.” “Go on.” “And after that?”

Offering General Leads


Clarifies the relationship of events in time so that the nurse and client can view them in perspective.

“What seemed to lead up to . . .?”

“Was this before or after . . .?”

“When did this happen?”

Placing the Event in Time or Sequence


Verbalizing what is observed or perceived. This encourages the client to recognize specific behaviors and compare perceptions with the nurse.
“You seem tense.” “I notice you are pacing a lot.” “You seem uncomfortable when you. . . .”

Making Observations


Asking the client to verbalize what is being perceived; often used with clients experiencing hallucinations.
“Tell me what is happening now.” “Are you hearing the voices again?” “What do the voices seem to be saying?”

Encouraging Description of Perceptions


Asking the client to compare similarities and differences in ideas, experiences, or interpersonal relationships. This helps the client recognize life experiences that tend to recur as well as those aspects of life that are changeable.
“Was this something like . . .?” “How does this compare with the time when . . .?” “What was your response the last time this situation occurred?”

Encouraging Comparison

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