Quickbite: Mind your language – effective communication in clinical practice

Veryan C Richards, Prof Alka S Ahuja and Dr Jacinta Tan

30 minutes


February 2022

Learning module

CPD domain:


Language is something we constantly use. All medical students learn communication, empathy and how to break bad news.

To psychiatrists, words are the equivalent of stethoscopes or ECGs – we use words to elicit patient responses and to understand people’s emotions, mental states and inner worlds. We tend to think that as psychiatrists, we particularly know how to use language respectfully and appropriately. But do we really?

This module is based on the work of Veryan Richards, an RCPsych lay representative who developed the person-centred language principles with the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales. The principles provide a helpful lens through which to shape the language used in clinical practice. Using the words of patients will help to provoke some reflection on how we as psychiatrists utilise language, along with the impact of this on patients and families.

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