A Theoretical and Clinical Perspective on Social Relatedness and the Patient With Serious Mental Illness

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BACKGROUND: A therapeutic relationship forms the basis of care of patients in psychiatric mental health nursing. However, individuals with schizophrenia have difficulty participating in these relationships. Recent research in the area of social cognitive psychology offers that deficits in this area affect the flow of perceiving and relating in interpersonal relationships. This literature has not been applied to nursing. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this article is to review the theories underpinning therapeutic relationships from a nursing and psychological perspective, including the newest research from social cognitive psychology. DESIGN: The article presents a literature review of the theories of nursing, psychology, and social cognitive science. Two patient case studies are used as examples of application of the theories. RESULTS: This article incorporates new knowledge about the components of social cognition to inform nurses as they build therapeutic relationships with patients with chronic and persistent mental illnesses. CONCLUSIONS: The science of social cognitive psychology offers nursing a new perspective on the evolving therapeutic nurse–patient relationship with patients with chronic and persistent mental illnesses. It has implications for clinicians, educators, and nurse scientists.

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