Main skill: communication


Analogous to medical professionals, allied healthcare manual therapies such as osteopathy, chiropractic and physiotherapy rely on patient centred communication skills to optimise positive outcomes of clinical encounters.

Good communication skills will help us:
develop working relationships
provide clear information
give and receive information about the care and support we are providing
provide emotional support to the people we work with
carry out an assessment of an individual's care needs

As a therapist we have to pay attention to first impressions. Saying hello and goodbye are an important way of gaining someone's trust before a conversation and before a therapy session. We have to give accurate information. When someone is given inaccurate information or a poor explanation, it can often be confusing and hinder understanding. As a therapist I have to ensure to give the patients I am supporting all the information they need. This is important in the delivery of high-quality health care. The ultimate objective of any therapist-patient communication is to improve the patient's health and medical care. (Assessing competence in communication and interpersonal skills: the Kalamazoo II report., Acad Med. 2004 Jun; 79(6):495-507.)

There are many barriers to good communication in the therapist-patient relationship, including patients' anxiety and fear, therapists' burden of work, fear of communicating a less positive outcome of the therapy.(Communication with older breast cancer patients, Fentiman ISBreast J. 2007 Jul-Aug; 13(4):406-9.)
Besides these fears and worries it's still important to communicate respectfully, clearly and with humility.

There are lots of ways we communicate that aren't verbal. We use our eyes, facial expression, hand and arm gestures and the way we sit and stand to communicate. Eyes and eye contact can indicate feelings. Short or broken eye contact can express nervousness, shyness or mistrust. If I experience it with my patient I try to get his/hur trust, I ask open questions, be an active listener and show emphaty in order to make him/her more calm before we start the therapy.

Facial expressions and movements of the face can indicate how a person is feeling. The posture and body language is also communicative in the way of mood and humour.

Patients often regard their doctors or therapists as one of their most important sources of psychological support (SPIKES-A six-step protocol for delivering bad news: application to the patient with cancer.Baile WF, Buckman R, Lenzi R, Glober G, Beale EA, Kudelka APOncologist. 2000; 5(4):302-11.) Empathy is one of the most powerful ways of providing this support to reduce patients' feelings of isolation and validating their feelings or thoughts as normal and to be expected. Patients are often suffer from chronic pain, hurt, got through surgery which makes them bio-psycho-socially sensitive, shy or angry. These challenging situations make it come up who really is the good therapist. Because as we all heard the quotes which I very agree with: