Chapter 7 – T is for Therapeutic Communication – What Are Therapeutic Communication Techniques?

About the Author:
Mark Aquino is a registered nurse in California with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing and Masters of Health Administration from West Coast University. He has at least 5 years of experience in the front lines as a visiting nurse in home health and hospice in direct patient care. He is author of OASIS NINJA: A Home Health Nurse’s Guide to Visits, Documentation, and Positive Patient Outcomes. This guide provides nurses with the information they need to provide quality care to their patients in the comfort of their own homes. He also writes books about how to live a good life and how to improve yourself on a daily basis such as Self Help Transformation: An Evidence-Based Approach to Personal Transformation for Mental Health, Physical Fitness, Relationships, and Career. You can also find all his books here. Learn more at

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This chapter will outline some of the most common techniques of therapeutic communication. These include laughter, silence, open-ended questions, and reflection. Hopefully, you’ll find one that works well for you or a loved one. If not, I’ll explain a few of my favorites. It is written to provide information that you can use to help you make others feel more comfortable.

Humor and Laughter

The use of humor in therapy has been shown to increase the client’s self-esteem and help them view themselves as funny. It also helps them entertain others when talking about serious issues. The use of humor in therapy is in line with the cognitive approach, which argues that humor fosters a shift in perspective. Moreover, laughter is a good communication tool for clients, enabling them to open up emotionally, express feelings, and improve relationships.

Laughter is a universally well-tolerated communication technique. The duration of laughter sessions should be appropriate. A few minutes of laughing out loud is sufficient, but prolonged laughter is preferred. The laughter must be accompanied by abdominal pressure and appropriate breathing. The sessions should last for at least three minutes. Aside from laughter sessions, participants can also experience silent laughter and passive laughter, both of which are effective. The most common side effects of laughter are mild to moderate, and no serious conditions should prevent their use.

One important aspect of laughter sessions is breathing. Exhalation should be controlled while laughing, while inspiration should be sustained on the diaphragmatic breathing. It is also important to use the correct breathing patterns, which are diaphragmatic and nasal. The laughter technique requires practice to help participants improve their breathing patterns. Laughter exercises should also include exercises that encourage group participation and enhance laughter contagion. You can also incorporate exercises that stimulate the larynx.


Therapists often use silence during therapy sessions. Silence allows the client to process an issue without being distracted by their own thoughts. The absence of sound allows the client to reflect, allowing the clinician to better understand what is bothering the client. Unlike other forms of therapy, silence isn’t threatening or uncomfortable. It provides a safe space for reflection and can often be extremely effective. If silence is used correctly, silence can be a powerful therapeutic tool.

A second use of silence is as a therapeutic communication technique. The client may be feeling overwhelmed or distracted by the other person, which can compromise the quality of the relationship. As a result, nursing staff should remain as objective and professional as possible. Patients may have strong feelings and may not feel comfortable talking about the topic at hand. Instead, stay focused on the subject at hand to reduce the risk of distractions that impair therapeutic communication.

If the patient is uncomfortable with silence, try to use it gently. For example, ask them to draw a timeline, or list specific events in their lives. Ask them if there is someone else they would like to involve in the process. Ask them if their beliefs or culture may affect the treatment. When planning the care, incorporate the client’s preferences. Silence may also be helpful when therapists want to make a point to explore an issue from a different perspective.

Open-ended questions

One of the most effective methods of opening a dialogue is by asking open-ended questions. These questions should not be leading or judgmental, and they should also be non-probing. When using open-ended questions, it is helpful to avoid asking a few at one time. During your conversation, try to ask about the person’s perceptions of the problem. Asking them about their feelings is also a good idea.

Another form of open-ended question is the laundry-list question. This technique works well if the client has difficulty putting their feelings into words. It is important to avoid questions that begin with “why,” since these questions put the client on the defensive and may even lead to defensiveness. The best approach to using open-ended questions is to use them sparingly to develop rapport. Listed below are a few examples of questions you can use:

Using open-ended questions encourages the client to elaborate and give the listener an opportunity to understand the underlying feelings. These questions can help you to begin a conversation with a client or a family member. They also enable the client to speak about health concerns in their own words. They help in developing a strong therapeutic relationship. A trained nurse will know when to use open-ended questions in a conversation, and when to use closed questions.


Reflection is a positive form of therapy. It involves asking a patient what they think should be done in a situation. In doing so, the healthcare provider helps patients take responsibility for their decisions. In addition, reflection encourages patients to be more self-aware and accountable for their health. This technique is effective in a variety of contexts. Let’s look at two examples of its use in therapy:

One type of reflective listening involves summarizing and reframing what the other person says. It helps clarify expectations and deal with the issue at hand. During the listening process, a person is guided by their own physiology, eye movement, posture, and body language. A person may feel most comfortable at a certain distance from another person when they are able to reflect on their own body language. Another type of reflective listening involves examining the content or larger segments of what is being said. Depending on the nature of the problem, people may choose to talk about difficult issues in silence.

Another type of reflective communication involves asking questions about the patient’s feelings. After the patient finishes answering the question, the nurse can rephrase the statement in a question. This creates an opportunity for further education by relating the patient’s feelings to the patient’s needs. When nurses ask a patient for an opinion, they also rephrase what they think the patient said in their own words. In doing so, they allow the patient to express their own views without assuming that they are correct.

Showing empathy

Among the many essential nursing skills, showing empathy is one of the most crucial. It lets the patient know that their feelings are valued and accepted. This can be done by listening and responding to the patient’s concerns. Below are some examples of how to show empathy in therapeutic communication. Listed below are examples of how to show empathy. They may surprise you! Listed below are three examples of how to show empathy to your patient.

In showing empathy, the therapist offers something that is similar to the patient. For example, if the therapist has personal experience with the patient’s condition, this may make the patient feel less isolated. For example, the patient may describe a problem sleeping. The nurse responds by offering an upshot formulation of the patient’s utterance. This technique has been identified as a vehicle for empathetic responses.

As a healthcare professional, showing empathy is essential for effective communication. This process is important for effective assessment of a patient’s true needs and providing tailor-made care. This goal can be reached only through developing empathetic skills. The following examples illustrate how to show empathy in therapeutic communication:

Responding to an important cue

As a nurse, it is crucial to use a variety of therapeutic communication techniques to facilitate interaction. Depending on the client’s ability to communicate verbally and the intent of the interaction, you can select techniques that will enhance communication while maintaining the client’s dignity. Avoid using nontherapeutic communication techniques, such as cutting off the client’s communication and assuming that the patient is incapable of expressing himself verbally..

Conflict Management and Nonverbal Conflict Resolution

There are many types of conflict resolution. For example, negotiation is a type of conflict resolution. Negotiation is a discussion between two or more parties with the goal of coming to an agreement. These strategies are proven to be extremely helpful in a wide variety of situations. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to peaceful resolution!


In the process of negotiation, parties may come to a mutual agreement. During this process, they must define their goals and objectives. They also must plan the approach to reach that goal. During the negotiation, the parties should determine the most important issues, anticipate the other party’s tactics, and consider the interests of each. This process will be more effective if the parties are prepared beforehand. If they prepare well, they can achieve a mutually beneficial agreement.

The first phase of the negotiation process involves setting the starting points, objectives, and understanding of the conflict. Each party must carefully examine the reasoning and motivation of the other party. During this phase, it is important to assess the likelihood of a positive outcome. Each party should also enter the meeting with clear expectations of the negotiation process. The parties should maintain a balance between firmness and cooperation. They should avoid confrontation. They should also use the right strategy to avoid misunderstandings and avoid escalating the conflict.

As the negotiation process unfolds, it is important to consider the goals and objectives of both parties. The outcome of the negotiation will depend on the way in which each party perceives the situation. By making frequent summaries and asking questions, both parties can better understand each other’s needs and wants. During the process, they should focus on possible solutions for mutual benefits. This strategy should also be flexible, which is necessary if they are to achieve a goal that is mutually beneficial.


Conflict management styles differ by type. Collaborative styles involve seeking an acceptable, cooperative solution. In collaborating, all parties are encouraged to express their views without causing hostility. They also must maintain a nonthreatening atmosphere while discussing potential solutions. They seek to find a solution that incorporates everyone’s feedback and is mutually agreeable. If collaboration does not succeed, a new method may need to be explored. Collaboration style is best suited for situations where more than one party wants to resolve the conflict.

Compared to the five classic conflict resolution methods, collaborative approaches are more effective in many situations. Collaboration involves dialogue and mutual understanding to help identify the issues and determine a common solution. This process allows the participants to clarify their positions and study existing facts, while not reducing the quality of the cause of conflict. It has been used in a wide variety of settings, from personal conflicts to crises affecting megaprojects.

Although conflict resolution methods include mediation and arbitration, collaboration is most effective for improving business relationships and processes. The benefits of collaboration include an increased likelihood of Win-Win solutions. Collaboration transforms conflict into teamwork. Listed below are some benefits of using this approach. And don’t be afraid to use it if it fits your situation. So, go forth and make the most of your collaboration in conflict resolution. You will be glad you did.


In conflict resolution, honesty is a core component. Throughout the process, individuals must be truthful about their feelings and their motivations. The more candid individuals and groups are, the faster progress can be made. In addition, an honest conversation reveals opportunities for improvement, thereby improving relationships and reducing conflict. However, this approach may not be suitable for every situation. For these reasons, it is recommended that a conflict resolution professional provide training in this area.

To be effective, a mediator must explain to the parties and their counsel their ethical duties. The mediator can only be as honest as the parties. If the mediator suspects a conflicting party is in violation of an ethical rule, he or she can discuss it with an attorney privately. Such discussions typically cure the problem. It is essential that both parties understand the importance of honesty in conflict resolution. It is also important that mediators remain impartial and respectful of all parties.

People who are too polite often end up deceiving others. They exaggerate their claims or withhold information. This is not an accident. The person will have to make up for it if it was really true. In such cases, honesty will be more important than social skills. So, if you find it difficult to be honest, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many resources available to help you become more honest.

Nonverbal communication

Understanding nonverbal communication is crucial to successful mediation. There are many nonverbals that can reveal conflicting emotions and contradictory ideas beyond verbal communication. This information can help identify feelings involved in conflict and legitimize them. Learn to identify these elements before mediation and use them to your advantage. Here are some tips for successful conflict resolution through nonverbals. You may also find these techniques useful when assisting a mediation session.

Cultural differences are a key aspect of nonverbal communication. In most cases, we learn about this phenomenon through imitation and observation. However, the meaning of these gestures vary from culture to culture. Therefore, understanding and using these techniques correctly can be extremely beneficial for conflict resolution. With the growing popularity of social media, awareness of nonverbals has become essential for understanding and relating to people from different cultures. For example, cultural differences can influence nonverbal communication preferences.

Nonverbal communication conveys 93% of the message. As mediators, it is essential to know which gestures are recurrent and how to read them. Knowing recurrent gestures and body language can help you to communicate better with your clients and avoid conflict. However, it is important to note that these gestures and messages are not the only ones that communicate meaning. This means that knowing which gestures are important to read and which ones are not will help you to reach a resolution.

Taking a step back

In conflict resolution, the first step is to establish space and time by listening. People don’t always respond to your input, but the process of listening is an important step in resolving conflicts. When you listen with compassion, you will demonstrate that you value your relationship and your willingness to work out a solution. You may even want to paraphrase what was said to clarify what was being said. Taking a step back when conflict is in the works will demonstrate your commitment to the relationship and to compromise. It is very important to remember that people want to be heard and will not respond to you if you just pretend to listen.

Clarifying expectations

When you approach a conflict resolution meeting, you must set the stage for success. This involves organizing your thoughts and conveying a willingness to listen and cooperate with the other party. Focus on the issue, idea, or collaboration at hand, and ask questions to clarify any misunderstandings. After you clarify your expectations, brainstorm solutions for the conflict. Try to think from the perspectives of all involved, and make sure to offer verbal and non-verbal feedback.

First, assess how the other party perceives the other’s power, credibility, and capability. Your goal is to achieve peace and avoid unnecessary escalation. While you may intend to avoid a confrontation, it is important to maintain credibility and avoid power questions that could weaken the credibility of both sides. Likewise, the image of power you foster will influence the nature of future conflicts. By ensuring that your promises and sanctions are consistent with your demands, you will be setting the stage for peaceful conflict resolution.

In a project, stakeholders often have different expectations, and there’s a chance the two sides may have conflicting objectives. However, the cause of these differences may not be immediately evident. In such cases, you will need to seek the support of senior management to clarify business objectives and consolidate an approach. You’ll also need to consider various forms of communication to make sure that you’ve reached agreement and kept it. It’s important to identify and resolve conflicts early in the project, because unresolved conflict can derail even the most strategic project.

About the Author:
Mark Aquino is a registered nurse in California with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing and Masters of Health Administration from West Coast University. He has at least 5 years of experience in the front lines as a visiting nurse in home health and hospice in direct patient care. He is author of OASIS NINJA: A Home Health Nurse’s Guide to Visits, Documentation, and Positive Patient Outcomes. This guide provides nurses with the information they need to provide quality care to their patients in the comfort of their own homes. He also writes books about how to live a good life and how to improve yourself on a daily basis such as Self Help Transformation: An Evidence-Based Approach to Personal Transformation for Mental Health, Physical Fitness, Relationships, and Career. You can also find all his books here. Learn more at

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