Exploring the therapeutic relationship in nursing theory and practice
Intended for healthcare professionals

Exploring the therapeutic relationship in nursing theory and practice

Karen Margaret Wright Professor of nursing, Faculty of Health and Care, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To learn more about the therapeutic relationship and its central role in mental health nursing practice

  • To find out how nurses can use themselves as an instrument of care in the therapeutic relationship

  • To count towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD, or you may wish to write a reflective account (UK readers)

  • To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

The therapeutic relationship is widely regarded as central to nursing practice, yet the concept is so familiar that it is easily taken for granted. However, like any relationship, a therapeutic relationship cannot be assumed, and to be therapeutic it requires investment from both nurse and service user. This article outlines the theoretical background and fundamental components of the therapeutic relationship, such as self-awareness, reflection and professionalism. The author also describes the skills required to develop therapeutic relationships with service users and introduces a new mnemonic – ATTACH – which encapsulates some of these qualities and skills.

Mental Health Practice. doi: 10.7748/mhp.2021.e1561

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software




Conflict of interest

None declared

Wright KM (2021) Exploring the therapeutic relationship in nursing theory and practice. Mental Health Practice. doi: 10.7748/mhp.2021.e1561

Published online: 27 July 2021

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