This pilot study aimed at investigating how mental health professionals on acute psychiatric wards recognize different levels of formal and informal coercion and treatment pressures as well as their attitude towards these interventions. An explorative cross-sectional survey among mental health professionals (N=39) was conducted using a questionnaire that consisted of 15 vignettes describing typical clinical situations on five different stages of the continuum of coercion. Low levels of coercion are recognized adequately while higher levels are grossly underestimated. The degree of coercion inherent to interventions comprising persuasion and leverage was underestimated by professionals with a positive attitude and overestimated by those with a negative attitude towards the respective interventions. No associations with ward or staff related variables were found. Higher knowledge on ambiguous variations of coercive interventions seems to foster more balanced reflections about their ethical implications. Advanced understanding of influencing factors of professionals’ attitudes towards coercion could lead to improved training of professionals in utilizing interventions to enhance treatment adherence in an informed and ethical way.