I am beginning my psychiatric clinical rotation this semester, and I must admit I am pretty nervous. I am not nervous about working with patients with mental illness, but I am worried about communicating with them. I am generally introverted and I don't really know how to initiate conversation with patients. I am unsure of what to say or what not to say. Any advice on techniques or the like would be much appreciated!
Jan 22, '13
I am also very introverted (and yet have ended up making a successful career in psychiatric nursing
). One thing I found helpful when starting out in school, although it sounds kind of cheesey and phony, was to imagine someone I knew and admired for communication skills (I was in therapy at the time, and used my therapist), and do an "impression" of that person, to some extent, when talking with clients. That helped me "get over the hump" as I developed my own style.
A lot of your psych nursing class will be focusing on therapeutic communication skills and how to work with psych clients.
Jan 22, '13
Being introverted may actually work to your advantage in that setting. Some mental health patients go into sensory overload easily, and people who are boisterous or loud can make them edgy or set them off. When you talk to patients, use open-ended statements to open the conversation rather than asking them questions they can simply reply "yes" or "no" to. That will help to draw them out - and maybe you, too.
Jan 27, '13
Thanks so much! The first day went really well. I'm looking forward to my next clinical day there!
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