Dealing with emotionally challenging patient encounters
Caring for patients is emotionally demanding. When people are sick, in pain, or
frightened, they are more likely to be distressed, fearful, aggressive, intolerant,
judgmental, and self-focused. After all, they are vulnerable and their first instinct
is to protect and defend themselves from the uncertain threat of others,
including their healthcare providers.
It is hard to observe patient distress and be the target of patient anger.
Clinicians experience a range of emotions in response to challenging patient
behaviours – fear, anger, frustration, irritation, shame, and guilt, to name a few –
and are faced with the daily challenge of supressing these emotions in
interactions with patients.
It is common for clinicians to become emotionally exhausted and develop
compassion fatigue, further exacerbates clinicians’ emotional reactivity to
challenging patient behaviour.
Clinicians can learn ways to manage their emotions during and after emotionally
challenging interactions. Dr Ashton-James provides clinicians with evidence-
based, easy to use emotion-regulation strategies to help them to de-intensify
negative emotions and generate positive emotions. Clinician coaching can be
provided individually or in groups, in-person or via web-based interactive
seminars. Please get in touch to learn more.