Psych nursing & the power of questions

I wanted to slowly delve into the “secret world” of psychiatric nursing… I say “secret” because I literally did NOT know ANYTHING about psychiatric nursing until I actually went through my psych clinical rotation in nursing school. I hardly learned anything of it in high school to college (besides, maybe, Nurse Ratched).


When I went into clinical rotations, however, I was immediately fascinated by this world that I had knew nothing about. This world of mental illness and diseases that I experienced for the first time in person: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, personality disorder, etc.

I am so thankful I became a psychiatric nurse. Not only because of the interpersonal interactions I have with my patients (no, we don’t only talk to our patients all day long!), but because it helped me to increase my own self-awareness and thus helped me to become a better person.

One of the unique jobs of a psychiatric nurse that NO OTHER inpatient nurse routinely does is lead patient groups. We facilitate group activities that educate patients about a multitude of things, from coping skills such as managing anxiety and depression, to relaxation techniques, to medication education. In order to educate patients about this, I began educating myself and started listening to podcasts and audiobooks on my commute to work.

One of the audiobooks I am currently reading is this one–Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life.


Although I am not done listening to the audio version of this book, the first several chapters already helped me tremendously! The author of the book, Marilee Adams, challenges you to avoid reacting to stressful situations with judgment (i.e. “Everyone hates me,” or “I’m a failure”) and instead ask thoughtful questions that can enhance your understanding about the situation (“What are the facts?” or “What can I learn?”).

She further enhances her idea with the visual aid of the Choice Map, shown below:

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 6.48.08 PM.png

For the LONGEST time as a nurse, I thought that I was supposed to help others. And by help others, I really meant doing everything for them — helping them get dressed, helping them eat, helping them walk. Yet, I never allowed my patients to take care of themselves.

One of the most significant lessons I learned from psychiatric nursing is that you do not want to tell your patient what to do OR do things for them; rather, you empower them by encouraging them to make their own decisions and you encourage them to find their own inner motivation to help themselves.

This book, Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, goes along with that idea by encouraging you to ask the questions in your life (or your patients’ lives) that can make a difference and change perspectives, thus triggering ACTION for change.

I chose to read this book after seeing how many positive reviews it received on Audible and Amazon. I highly recommend that everyone read or listen to this book! It has been an exciting listen on my commutes to work and I am enjoying every minute of it.

But before you buy the book, ask yourself…. What is the best decision I can make right now to improve my life?

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