Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Establishing a Therapeutic Relationship

May 1, 2021

A therapeutic nurse-patient interaction is one in which the nurse demonstrates caring, sincerity, empathy, and trustworthiness. If the patient senses that the nurse is not being genuine in conveying these feelings, a therapeutic, trusting relationship does not develop. If the nurse appears hurried or detached from the interaction, a message is sent that the patient is not as important as the other things on the nurse’s mind, which very likely leaves the patient feeling frustrated and diminished in self worth.

The LPN/LVN must ensure that the patient is the focus of each interaction, not the equipment or the task. On entering a patient’s room, the nurse should look at and address the patient before assessing or adjusting any equipment. In addition, the LPN/LVN should be diligent in following through with commitments. If the nurse has promised to assist the patient with a bath in 15 minutes, then this commitment should be carried out. If this is not going to be possible, the LPN/LVN should explain this to the patient and establish another mutually agreeable plan for completing the bath. Failure to follow through on commitments undermines the relationship and erodes trust.

Trust is essential to effective nurse-patient interaction. Much of the information that the patient shares with the nurse is personal and often highly sensitive. The patient must be able to trust the nurse to treat the information confidentially and share it only with those individuals who need it to provide safe and competent care for the patient. Although confidentiality is vitally important to maintain, certain limits exist. The LPN/LVN is obligated to report a patient’s statement of intent to do self harm or to harm others. This obligation should be made clear to all patients.

Be careful to maintain professional boundaries in nurse-patient relationships. Sharing of personal information, such as address and phone number, is not advisable. Doing so often leads to situations that the nurse is not prepared to handle.