The 7 Fundamental Communication Skills Of A Psychologist

The 7 fundamental Communication Skills of a Psychologist

Nowadays, it is necessary to have a good repertoire of communication skills to work in any profession. When a company or organization conducts a personnel selection process, recruiters increasingly take into account a candidate’s ability to resolve interpersonal conflicts, express themselves clearly, and function fluently in the social environment. Of course: there are some professions that especially depend on a person’s effectiveness when using communication skills.

The result of a workday could balance towards a positive or regular performance according to the exercise (or not) of communication skills. Such is the case of the clinical psychologist, who must be able to manage the therapeutic relationship with his patients, day after day, from the moment he receives them in the office. For this reason, in this article we will develop what they are the communication skills essential for the exercise of the psychologist’s work.

Why should a therapist have communication skills?

Although as time goes by, new modalities for providing psychotherapeutic care emerge in the ‘psi’ field, such as telephone support or online psychotherapy, the work of the clinical psychologist never stops depending on the use of the word. However, the work within the clinic is not only about using the word to psychoeducate, transmit knowledge, notice some behavior of the patient or make an intervention. The word “net” or “raw” may have little or no effect on the patient if the word is not used correctly. asthat is, if it is not considered that equal attention must be paid to the most effective ways to transmit certain information as to the content.

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It is not the same to point out a dysfunctional behavior or a specific behavioral pattern at one time than at another. Doing it with your palms on your lap and a relaxed look is also not the same as doing it with a frown and your arms crossed. When faced with the emotional expression of a very vulnerable patient, it does not matter to respond with a sign of assent, with a word that denotes empathy, or with a prolonged silence.

It could even happen that, on the other side, a patient appears hostile or aggressive towards the therapist. This must have the communication skills to deal with this wide field of possibilities, since it is a task always framed in and for human relationships.

The 7 communication skills that a psychologist needs

The communication skills necessary to function in the clinical setting are diverse. There are some people who, due to their learning histories, personality traits, and the family and cultural environments in which they have been raised, among other factors, have developed a high degree of skill in these skills spontaneously. However, this does not mean that they are innate abilities or that they are impossible to acquire in adulthood. A person who needs to improve their communication skills could do so if they want to pursue a profession that depends on the use of these skills. There are multiple intervention programs to enhance them, and, in addition, they can be worked on within the framework of a psychotherapeutic process.

The key communication skills of the psychologist

The main communication skills that a psychologist needs are the following.

1. Recognize emotions and thoughts

Psychologists must develop the ability to help the patient break down their emotions. Sometimes patients are able to detect their own emotional states themselves, but only in a general and non-specific way. The communication skill that the psychologist must use there is being able to direct the patient to detect, according to his signs, expressions and words, what could be behind that chaotic amalgam of emotions. Underlying a person’s anger could be a combination of shame and fear, for example.

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2. Listen to the patient actively

“We have two ears and one mouth to listen more and speak less,” the saying goes. Although the therapist is not a blank canvas, alien and impersonal, who must simply remain silent while the patient addresses him, it is true that he must have the ability to listen openly and attentively to what the patient has to say. about your personal situation. The therapist must be careful not to present tempting but hasty hypotheses or make unnecessary interpretations about thoughts, emotions, values, and intentions of the patient.

3. Accept criticism

Many times, situations arise in the office for which academic training has not prepared the therapist. It is possible that the psychologist receives criticism from the patient regarding some aspect of the treatment. This does not have to be negative, since feedback, although it is not a necessary condition for a therapeutic process to be effective, can be a useful indicator for the professional, since it could provide information on which to make adjustments or modifications. looking to the future.

4. Have a compassionate look

It is essential that a therapist has the ability to approach the patient from a compassionate perspective regarding their pain and suffering. Compassion does not mean trying to cancel or block the patient’s discomfort, but understanding that pain is part of our human condition, accepting it as such, and welcoming it into the office. Compassion allows the psychologist to recognize that both he and his patient have defects, make mistakes, and face situations that surpass them. Ultimately, compassion allows you to validate the patient, make therapy a safe space, and strengthen the psychologist-patient bond.

5. Return to the present moment during session

In line with the skill of compassion, it is not insignificant to note that a therapist, being human and by definition imperfect, may have difficulty sustaining attention on the patient’s discourse. The psychologist may intend to remain attentive throughout the session and yet at times get lost in the person’s speech or forget important details even when the patient has just mentioned them. Therefore, The ability to return to the present moment does not mean being able to remain for the entire hour of the session without dispersing even once.

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On the contrary, returning to the present moment involves adopting a compassionate attitude toward oneself while intending to listen as carefully as possible to the patient, who is having the courage to open up to the therapist. Some useful strategies to return to the present moment during a conversation are to look the other person in the eyes, anchor yourself in your own breathing or observe the gestures—hands, lips, gaze—of the other person when they are speaking.

6. Be assertive when expressing yourself

Assertiveness is a way of communicating that is based on being able to express an opinion or need clearly, without having to resort to aggressive or passive strategies. It is essential in every communication exchange that occurs during the session. However, it is especially useful in those cases in which the psychologist must communicate administrative information to the patient that could evoke an often unexpected reaction, namely increases in fees, changes in availability or clarifications about missed sessions.

Assertiveness allows the psychologist to express his or her need or point of view transparently while accepting the possibility that the patient may disagree. This attitude denotes that the therapist is in a position to negotiate and/or support her position from honesty and empathy.

7. Present good non-verbal communication

Finally, good nonverbal performance is a very important interpersonal skill for a therapist. Making your own gestures consistent with what you are trying to express gives communication a sense of coherence that makes the dialogue between both parties more effective. Non-verbal communication includes eye contact, facial expression, gestures, voice modulation, etc.

Do you want to train to train the key skills of the psychotherapist?

In it Online Postgraduate in Integrative Psychotherapy from Instituto Mensalus You will learn everything necessary to establish an adequate therapeutic alliance with patients, as well as the most effective intervention strategies. You will find more information about the postgraduate degree on this page.