Communication Techniques - OARS


OARS is a skill-based model of interactions adapted from a client-centered approach used in Motivational Interviewing. These skill-based techniques include verbal and non-verbal responses and behaviors. Both verbal and non-verbal techniques need to be adapted to be culturally sensitive and appropriate.

OARS stands for:

O = Open Ended Questions

A = Affirmations
R = Reflections
S = Summaries

As a health care professional it is your role to utilize each of these skills with intention.
To be intentional is the rationale for you to choose a specific response at a specific time. Without intention the health care professional is having a conversation with the patient, but not a professional interaction or intervention. Three reasons for using this skill are:

  1. To acknowledge the patient and demonstrate respect which establishes rapport and


  2. To help the patient explore and gain information and insight.

  3. To challenge the patient to view his or her situation differently or to take alternative

    action in their decisions.

Using OARS will help to establish an atmosphere of acceptance and trust and aid the patient in exploring their hopes and fears. Remember: Open-ended questions, Affirmations, Reflections and Summarizing statements are not used in any order and can be used throughout a patient- provider interaction.

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