Gary's Guidance: Characteristers Of A Therapeutic Interaction

January 2014

As an elder care consultant and my working in the capacity of a geriatric care manager I have engaged hundreds of elders who needed help.  In meeting with numerous seniors and their adult children over the course of time, I have often been asked this question:  “How do you do it…isn’t it hard to be working with other people’s problems all the time?”  In general, my answer has been that I love my work because I have found it gratifying to be in the position of making a difference by finding solutions to problems and gaining positive outcomes.  To that end, therapeutic interaction skills are necessary and vital in developing positive working relationships.  The following is a list of general characteristics and factors that are necessary for having a therapeutic interaction:

  • Possessing empathy
  • Establishing trust
  • Awareness of and adhering to boundaries
  • Engaging in active listening
  • Being creative and resourceful
  • Demonstrating knowledge and sensitivity toward culture
  • Using appropriate humor
  • Being non-judgmental
  • Demonstrating patience
  • Exercising tolerance
  • Being respectful
  • Demonstrating politeness
  • Using age appropriate communication
  • Taking initiative
  • Being responsive

The ability to influence others can be a tipping point as to whether or not a desired outcome is achieved.  The power of influencing involves the following:  ability to protect privacy and confidentiality, ability to share factual information, ability to offer advice, opinions, and suggestions, ability to give constructive feedback, ability to describe logical consequences, ability to appropriately use self-disclosure, ability to provide information in concise or concrete manner, and an ability to exercise appropriate use of authority.

Gary Kozick, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker