The Therapeutic Relationship: Enhancing Referrals

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PurposeThis article focuses on the ways rehabilitation nurses use the therapeutic relationship to lessen barriers some veterans experience when a referral to mental health treatment is recommended.DesignVeterans presenting with posttraumatic stress symptoms are discussed, and possible interventions within the therapeutic relationship are proposed.MethodVeterans’ perception of mental health stigma, building a collaborative therapeutic relationship, recommending a referral and assessments of stress responses, posttraumatic stress symptoms, suicide risk, and intervention strategies are proposed.FindingsWhen changes in functioning and suicidality occur in veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, it is important to screen and engage veterans at risk.Conclusions and Clinical RelevanceWhen veterans in the rehabilitation process present with a need for mental health referral, barriers to treatment may include the stigma of mental health treatment. Rehabilitation nurses using the therapeutic relationship act as change agents to assist veterans in overcoming these barriers to treatment. The therapeutic relationship provides nurses with a foundation to provide opportunities for veterans to be supported and to seek treatment.

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