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Therapy and Culture in the Nurse-Patient Relationship

The nurse-patient relationship can be discussed as specific interactions between a person who takes a role of a caregiver, a provider of services, or a supporter and a client who needs to improve the health and cope with diseases. As a result, nurses should pay much attention to the impact of their therapeutic use of self and visions regarding culture on their nurse-patient relationships. The therapeutic use of self means that a nurse understands how her communication with patients can influence their outcomes and how such interaction can be therapeutic or supporting in its nature (Finkelman & Kenner, 2014). When a nurse recognizes the patient’s needs, accepts his or her concerns, reflects on problems, supports, respects the patient’s visions and values, and provides the necessary treatment, it is possible to speak about the positive impact of such therapeutic use of self on the nurse-patient relationship (Koloroutis, 2014).

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In this context, much attention should be paid to a patient’s cultural background because the respect for specific visions, values, and beliefs means recognizing and addressing the patient’s culture. Nurse-patient relationships are effective when a nurse uses different approaches to working with representatives of Hispanic, African-American, Asian, and Native American cultures, among other ethnic groups (Bastable, 2014). A good nurse focuses on patients’ differences in their cultures, understands their beliefs regarding illnesses and treatment, communicates with reference to cultural norms regarding interactions, and avoids stereotyping (Long, 2012).

Thus, nurses cannot ignore the impact of their own cultural and personal visions on relationships with patients. From this point, cultural and personal aspects influence the quality of care and relationships, and a nurse’s task is to refer to the therapeutic use of self and culture in order to develop positive nurse-patient relationships. It is possible to speak about the nurse’s cultural heritage and its impact on performing the professional role of a nurse. Problems can occur when the cultural backgrounds of nurses and patients are different (Long, 2012). It is possible to identify such barriers as the language, religious visions, and traditions associated with treatment. However, the opposite situation can be observed when a nurse has developed cultural competence and focuses on the therapeutic use of self.

For instance, the nurse who belongs to the ethnic minority group understands that patients with different cultural backgrounds require more support. Therefore, before starting the assessment, she makes sure that patients understand the language and her messages. In addition, she draws conclusions regarding religious and cultural beliefs in order to avoid embarrassing patients during the assessment or diagnosing stages and propose effective treatment. For example, while working with a female Asian who does not speak English, it is important to ask her relatives to help with translating. It is also possible to refer to male members of the family in order to help the woman decide on the treatment option because Asian females often need the support of the male family members. Furthermore, while working with Hispanics who share traditional views regarding ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ diseases, it is also important to ask patients about the preferred treatment or ensure that the provided method will not cause harm (Bastable, 2014). However, when there are barriers to communication, it is necessary to ask patients about their preferences and certain aspects that can prevent them from accepting this or that assessment and treatment plans.


Bastable, S. B. (2014). Nurse as educator. New York, NY: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Finkelman, A., & Kenner, C. (2014). Professional nursing concepts. New York, NY: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Koloroutis, M. (2014). The therapeutic use of self: Developing three capacities for a more mindful practice. Creative Nursing, 20(2), 77-85.

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Long, T. B. (2012). Overview of teaching strategies for cultural competence in nursing students. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 19(3), 102-112.

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