Therapeutic relationship corresponds to a health care professional's relationship with a patient. It is the process through which a professional and a patient communicate with one another and to create a favourable environment for the patient. Such an approach is important because it is also the very first place where personal feelings, values, experiences and concerns are shared by the individual seeking care (Percy & Richardson, 2018). As such, having a safe, open, and non-judgmental atmosphere where the affected individual can feel at ease is very important to health care professionals. Confidence, understanding and equivalence are important foundation of a healthy therapeutic connection.
An acute psychiatric inpatient setting is a special environment in which patients who are chronically ill receive comprehensive care within a small, relatively short time span. This renders it difficult, for various reasons, to establish a good therapeutic relationship with such patients (Moreno-Poyato et al., 2016). However, it seems likely that in such a setting, the therapeutic relationship plays a vital role on factors such as patient satisfaction, clinical outcome, and rates of re-hospitalisation. The nature of the mental disorder and communication deficits will determine what approach can be used with them. Patients with mental health disorders typically face communication difficulties depending on the symptoms of the illness (Beentjes, Goossens & Jongerden, 2016). This disorder can permanently affect coping abilities and require intensive treatment interventions and therapies. Many doctors undergo no instruction in dealing with patients with severe mental illness, and may feel awkward or inadequate in engaging with them, including physical complaints. Untrained practitioners who are newly faced with these conditions may feel unsure about how even basic communication skills can be performed. Olfson (2016) explains that teaching student’s basic communication skills for people with serious mental illness will strengthen their future capacity to provide a highly disadvantaged group with patient-centred treatment.
Beentjes, T. A., Goossens, P. J., & Jongerden, I. P. (2016). Nurses' experience of maintaining their therapeutic relationship with outpatients with bipolar disorder and their caregivers during different stages of a manic episode: a qualitative study. Perspectives in psychiatric care, 52(2), 131-138.
Moreno-Poyato, A. R., Montesó-Curto, P., Delgado-Hito, P., Suárez-Pérez, R., Aceña-Domínguez, R., Carreras-Salvador, R., ... & Roldán-Merino, J. F. (2016). The therapeutic relationship in inpatient psychiatric care: A narrative review of the perspective of nurses and patients. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 30(6), 782-787.
Olfson, M. (2016). Building the mental health workforce capacity needed to treat adults with serious mental illnesses. Health Affairs, 35(6), 983-990.
Percy, M., & Richardson, C. (2018). Introducing nursing practice to student nurses: How can we promote care compassion and empathy. Nurse Education in Practice, 29, 200-205.
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