Therapeutic communication is a process in which we can take; to improve an individual’s understanding in the message we are sending through non-verbal and verbal communication. It comprises the use of detailed approaches that encourage an individual to demonstrate ideas and feelings. Therapeutic communication in the nursing practice is key to providing adequate care, understanding and empathy. Within this reflective paper I will reflect on my capabilities to utilise communication skills, assisting me in recognising and discovering the importance of these skills throughout my nursing practice. I will reflect on my use of three communication skills I used in a mock interview during my tutorial class. The skills consist of listening, eye contact and attending. The use of reflection will highlight my strengths and areas that I still need to develop as a novice practitioner.
Eye contact is a vital part of therapeutic communication. It shows confidence, attentiveness, and interest in what is being said. According to Nash (2013) eye contact is detrimental in creating a rapport and that it will be the first part of our language a person will notice. Day, Levett-Jones & Kenny (2012) agree by arguing that reciprocated eye interaction indicates, a willingness to be actively attentive in what the individual is communicating. This leads the individual to feel settled and established. When putting this into practice through my mock interview I found that using adequate eye contact, I was able to deliver trust and confidence in the words that I had delivered; I also establish that I still have room for improvement and that I can further my skills in this area with additional knowledge.
To actively listen involves all senses, this shows an individual we have respect and interest for the words they are delivering. Kozlowska & Doboszynska (2012) states that a good communicator acquires skills in both receiving and sending messages and any person who is truly listening; will have complete understanding of the message they receive and also deliver. Stein- Parbury (2014) support Kozlowska & Doboszynska (2012) argument by asserting that to truly listen the individual needs to mentally prepare, to be capable of achieving the skill of listening in the most effective way; and that most of all we need to have the desire to hear what is being communicated.
As I reflect upon the interview process, I realise that my listening skills may have been let down due to the distraction of surrounding noise from other interviews that were taking place. Stein- Parbury (2014) supports this by arguing that the skill of listening is instigated by the preparation of the individual and the environment to which the communication is taking place. When taking this in mind I realised that at the same time my listening skills were inadequate so were my skills in attending.
Attending is to attend in that moment. To be completely with the individual and support the feeling that they are being heard. Egan (2010) defined five detailed ways in which we can ensure we are attending. This starting with the acronym SOLER which represents the following, S = sit squarely with the person, O = Open Position, L = Lean slightly towards the person, E = eye contact, R = relax (posture). When following the acronym we must always take into account the cultural aspects of the individual that we are communicating with. Stein- Parbury (2014) also looks into Egan (2010) SOLER acronym and agree that attending promotes encouragement for the patient and provides a strong feeling of support between the nurse and patient. Looking at this I understand that when one part of communication breaks down, it can lead to a whole range of issues within the communication area.
Using the reflection process I have been capable of highlighting my strengths and areas that I still need to develop. While discovering a deeper understanding of each different communication skill, starting off the interview I felt quietly confident that I would be able interview at a professional level, due to my daily work experience completing case conferences; however upon this reflection that did not seem to be the case. I have learnt that therapeutic communication is different from standard communication, by bringing empathy into the messages that we send and receive; which is essential in delivering patient care in the nursing practice. It assists in providing respect, comfort and understanding for our patients. In each situation we may face we have the opportunity to reflect and improve upon these skills daily. For me the process of the mock interview and the reflection process has been invaluable. I will be able to take these skills with me in all aspects of my nursing career.