Components of a Therapeutic Relationship
Clients are unpredictable. There are times that they outburst with anger or act out their inappropriate desires. A nurse, who does not judge the client or person no matter what his or her behavior, is showing acceptance. Acceptance does not mean accepting all the inappropriate behavior but rather acceptance of the person as worthy. When the client displays an improper behavior, the nurse can communicate with the client by being firm and clear without anger or judgment. In this way, the nurse allows the client to feel intact but at the same time aware that his certain behavior is unacceptable. Let’s take a look at the given example.
Situation: A client tries to kiss the nurse.
Inappropriate response: What the hell are you doing?! I’m leaving maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.
Appropriate response: Adam, do not kiss me. We are working on your relationship with your girlfriend and that does not require you to kiss me. Now let us continue.
Positive regard is an unconditional and nonjudgmental attitude where the nurse appreciates the client as a unique worthwhile human being that shows respect for the client regardless of his or her behavior background and lifestyle. The following ways are example of how to promote respect and positive regard to a client:
- Calling the client by name
- Spending time with the client
- Listening to the client
- Responding to the client openly
- Considering the client’s ideas and preferences when planning care
Self-awareness is the process of understanding one’s own values, beliefs, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, motivations, prejudices, strengths and limitations. Before a nurse can understand clients he or she should be able to understand him or herself. The first step in preparing oneself to build a therapeutic nurse-patient relationship is to understand oneself.
THERAPEUTIC USE OF SELF
A nurse can only use his or her personality, experiences, values, feelings, intelligence, needs, coping skills and perceptions to build a relationship with clients (therapeutic use of self) when he or she has developed self-awareness and self-understanding.