The importance of communication and empathy in the therapy process. The needs of patients in occupational therapy

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The therapist's ability to understand the patient's needs and to communicate effectively has a greater influence on the evaluation of the therapy than what the patient perceives as the success of the therapy. The results of a study of patients of occupational, speech and physical therapy have shown the relevance of psycho-emotional factors in the treatment process and for the perception of therapeutic competence.

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Need to be learnt side by sideTeaching clinical skills to undergraduates focuses on examination, planning treatment, safe prescribing, and procedures such as venepuncture, suturing, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.1 Curriculums for communication skills aim to develop effective (clear and sensitive) communication with patients, carers, and colleagues. Skills include being able to take a history and share information, particularly explaining procedures and discussing treatment options and their effects.1 When working with patients and colleagues, communication and clinical skills are practised simultaneously, yet most medical school curriculums teach them separately, albeit in parallel.The current practice of teaching communication skills separately from clinical skills reflects a reductionist paradigm—by breaking down the complex phenomenon of a consulatation to its basic components. This may be helpful at an early stage of learning, but it may limit the coherence needed to ensure that doctors communicate satisfactorily with patients.Those who teach communication skills have moved on from …