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Original Research

The BATHE Method: Incorporating Counseling and Psychotherapy Into the Everyday Management of Patients

Joseph A. Lieberman, III, MD, MPH, and Marian R. Stuart, PhD

Published: April 1, 1999

Article Abstract

Physicians today are required to do more than ever before; skills that were unnecessary in the past are now “givens.” In order for physicians to keep patients well, help them manage chronic problems, and encourage them to adhere to medication regimens, a positive doctor/patient relationship is vital. Establishing patient rapport, obtaining patient trust, and allowing patients to tell their stories show respect and allow a healing partnership.

Patients often expect help with emotional as well as physical problems, so it is important to obtain as much information from patients as possible. The BATHE technique is a psychotherapeutic procedure and serves as a rough screening test for anxiety, depression, and situational stress disorders. The BATHE technique consists of 4 specific questions about the patient’s background, affect, troubles, and handling of the current situation, followed by an empathic response; the procedure takes approximately 1 minute and must be practiced. Physicians may use the BATHE technique to connect meaningfully with patients, screen for mental health problems, and empower patients to handle many aspects of their life in a more constructive way.

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