How to use intentional silence
Evidence & Practice    

How to use intentional silence

Douglas Kemerer Resident care manager, Frey Village, Middletown, Pennsylvania, USA

Rationale and key points

This article explains intentional silence, which can provide a therapeutic nursing presence that demonstrates compassion and respect for the patient.

Intentional silence can enhance the therapeutic relationship between the nurse and patient.

Intentional silence can be used to reduce the patient’s emotional lability by ensuring that they feel listened to.

It is important that nurses are able to respond therapeutically to rhetorical statements and/or those concerning serious or severe clinical circumstances.

The nurse can use intentional silence to support the patient in acknowledging, processing and reflecting on changes in their health.

Reflective activity

‘How to’ articles can help to update your practice and ensure it remains evidence based. Apply this article to your practice. Reflect on and write a short account of:

How this article will change your practice.

How you could use this article to educate your colleagues.

Subscribers can upload their reflective accounts at

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2016.e10538


Peer review

All articles are subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Received: 22 April 2016

Accepted: 09 June 2016

Published online: 03 August 2016

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Try 1 month’s access for just £1 and get:

Your subscription package includes:
  • Full access to and the Nursing Standard app
  • The monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal
RCN student member? Try Nursing Standard Student
Already subscribed? Log in

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now