It has been great using most of the therapeutic communication skills with my patients at clinicals. The skills I still struggle with are the use of silence and my non verbal communication .
What is it about the use of silence that is a challenge for you?
With the use of silence, I wonder if I am communicating interest and empathy while silent. The silence tends to feel awkward and I think it reflects in my body language. I don't want to come off as uninterested or unhelpful
I have to ensure that my non verbal communication is congruent with my verbal communication
According to theory, I understand that silence gives the client control of the content, pace and objective of the therapeutic session (Shebib, 2014). Silence also gives the client time to make connections – to find the words or feelings they are searching for (Egan, 2014).
I believe what you lack is experience. To use silence effectively, it is necessary to have built relational depth with the client, which is difficult for you to do as a student nurse in clinical practice.
Silence also allows the counselor to gather their thoughts and feelings, and to process what the client is saying (Egan, 2014).
I had similar experience when I first started counselling. I used the Kolb's cycle to determine what kind of learner I am. I realized that I am an accomodating learner. I learn better when provided with “hands-on" experiences. Lots of practice was key to my improvement.
It is important for you to continue practicing using silence in order to enhance your comfort with it.
You are right. The main challenge is my lack of experience and also the fact that I have not built a deeper connection with the patients for me to comfortably use silence. As highlighted in Shebib (2014) "Carl Rogers acknowledges that silence can feel uncomfortable at times, especially before the therapeutic relationship is established".
I will take your advice and continue to practice this skill and use clinical supervision when appropriate to explore and tackle my difficulties.
References Egan, G. (2014). The Skilled Helper: A Problem Management and Opportunity Development Approach to Helping (10th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning Shebib, B. (2014). Choices: Interviewing and counselling skills for Canadians. Don Mills, Ontario: Pearson Canada.