Interpersonal Skills

Topics: Communication, Health care, Nonverbal communication Pages: 8 (2325 words) Published: October 4, 2005


The interpersonal and intrapersonal skills that an occupational therapist should possess are vital to the outcome of a successful therapist-client therapeutic relationship. The occupational therapist must have an excellent communication skills in order to effectively relate to the client, collect sufficient information from the client and consequently deliver high-quality healthcare.

The field of Occupational Therapy is the health professional discipline I have chosen to undertake in this assignment. This essay aims to discuss the specific communication and interpersonal relationship features that characterise occupational therapy and the particular intra-personal qualities that practitioners would need to work successfully in this practice. The specific communication skills that would be essential in such situations will also be discussed. The degree to which I possess these qualities will be reflected and determine what I could improve and develop.

Communication and interpersonal relationship features

Therapists must have the ability to communicate happily and productively with the client and use communication skills such as listening, problem solving, teaching, and counselling (Craven & Hirnle, 2003).

The ability to listen and to be attentive to the client is highly beneficial to the occupational therapist. The therapist is able to obtain information for written reports and also conveys to the client that the therapist is interested in them. As well as listening to the verbal cues given by the client, the therapist must also pay attention to the non-verbal cues. The correct recipe is to fully attend, listen and then respond (Rungapadiachy, 1999).

Therapists solve problems by interacting and working with the client, their family members, and other healthcare team members. Occupational therapists take everyday activities that people are having difficulty performing, for whatever reason, physical, emotional or some other, and help them to do those things again (Labovitz, 2003). Occupational therapists help clients help themselves.

Every healthcare professional must communicate observations to the healthcare team in both oral and written form. It is critical that this communication is of high quality so that the healthcare delivered is able to meet the client's needs. Therapists are required to be knowledgeable, articulate, and capable of valuable written and verbal expression (Craven & Hirnle, 2003).

Non-verbal communication is highly important when dealing with the client. The occupational therapist must consider personal space, eye contact, body language and posture. The occupational therapist must take into consideration the culture of the client, and that culture's acceptability of personal space and touch. Different cultures prefer different degrees of closeness in personal space (Balzer-Riley, 2004). It is important in some cultures to hold direct eye contact, yet some cultures find direct eye contact rude and intrusive (Balzer-Riley, 2004). Body language and posture are key ways for an occupational therapist to display warmth to a client. A client will feel comfortable and this will lead to a more open and full relationship (Balzer-Riley, 2004). It is important that this sort of relationship is established in rehabilitation as the client is often under a considerable amount of stress and may find it hard to open up to another person. A shift of posture toward the client, a smile, direct eye contact and motionless hands are good ways to display warmth (Balzer-Riley, 2004).

Intra-personal qualities

To achieve an effective relationship with a client, there are particular intra-personal skills that should be obtained. An occupational therapist must be respectful, trustworthy, empathetic, genuine, confident, and have good self-awareness. A health professional should continually reflect on his or her interactions with their...

References: Auckland University of Technology (2005). Interpersonal skills for health
professional practice
Balzer-Riley, J. W. (2004). Communication in Nursing (5th ed.). St Louis: Mosby.
College of Nurses of Ontario (2004). Therapeutic Nurse-Client Relationship. Retrieved April 8, 2005, from
Craven, R
Josephine, E., & Thoreau, M. (2002). Communication Plus: a spiral for success. Auckland: Pearson Education New Zealand Limited.
Labovitz, D. (2003). Ordinary miracles: true stories about overcoming obstacles and surviving catastrophes. New Jersey: SLACK Incorporated.
Mckay, M., & Fanning, P. (2000). Self-Esteem (3rd ed.). California: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Reeve, J. (1996). Motivating others : nurturing inner motivational resources. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Rungapadiachy, D. M. (1999). Interpersonal communication and psychology for health care professionals : Theory and practice. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
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