A humanistic approach to care can also be viewed as an existentialist view. According to Corey (2009), as humans we are capable of self-awareness, which is the distinctive capacity that allows us to reflect and to decide. In person centered/humanistic therapy the nurse utilizes communication that ensures each individual experiences the presence of the nurse as authentic, caring, compassionate, and sincere. This is more than offering therapeutic techniques such as responding, reflecting, summarizing, and so on.
This is deep listening or as some say “listening with the heart and not just the ears.” It is done with conscious intention and without preconceptions, busy-ness, distractions, or analysis. It takes place in the “now” within an atmosphere of shared humanness—human being to human being. Through presence or “being within the moment,” the nurse provides each person with an interpersonal encounter that is experienced as a connection with one who is giving undivided attention to the needs and concerns of the individual. Using unconditional positive regard, nurses convey to the individual receiving care the belief in his or her worth and value as a human being, not solely the recipient of medical and nursing interventions.
According to Corey (2009), the person-centered approach emphasizes the unique role of the counselor as a facilitator rather than a leader. The therapeutic relationship is achieved by providing care that recognizes the totality of the human being (the interconnectedness of body, mind, emotion, spirit, society, culture, relationships, context, and environment). Each patient has their own set of values that are important to them, their own perspectives on life and death, their own belief system, and their own personal needs. According to Jean Watson’s Theory of caring the humanistic approach allows us to return to our deep professional roots and values. It emphasizes the humanistic aspects of nursing in combination with scientific knowledge.
Watson’s caring theory allows the nurse to practice the art of caring, provide compassion to ease patients’ and families’ suffering, and to promote their healing and dignity. Watson is one of the few nursing theorist who consider not only the cared-for but also the caregiver. Promoting and applying these caring values in our practice is not only essential to our own health as a nurse, but its significance is also fundamentally tributary to finding meaning in our work. Watson views the “carative factors” as a guide for the core of nursing. She uses the term carative to contrast with conventional medicine’s curative factors. Her carative factors attempt to “honor the human dimensions of nursing’s work and the inner life world and subjective experiences of the people we serve” (Watson, 1997b, p. 50).
According to Watson a strong liberal arts background is necessary in order for nurses to develop humanistic philosophies and value system. As nurses we continue to grow and learn through all our experiences both positive and negative. We need to actively pursue ways to continue to learn, grow, and to build our emotional intelligence every day. Nurses that utilize the humanistic approach also have a connection with their emotional intelligence, channeling it by means of empathy and respect in a positive professional manner. They bring love, hope, relationship-centered principles and inspiration to the work place every day and inspire excellence.
The “Theory of Caring” emphasizes the importance of seeing each patient as an individual. By utilizing this core value in the delivery of care the nurse promotes healing, peace, comfort, and a sense of well-being for the individual person. Caring endorses our professional identity within a context where humanistic values are constantly questioned and challenged. Upholding these caring values in our daily practice helps transcend the nurse from a state where nursing is perceived as “just a job,” to that of a gratifying profession (Duquette & Cara, 2000). Utilizing a holistic approach to care acknowledges that spirituality and health are intertwined for most patients. We can create a healing environment for our patients when we use our mind, heart, and hands to provide nursing care.
According to Watson (2006), a caring occasion is that considered moment in terms of time and physical place when the nurse and somebody else act together in a manner that an occasion is dedicated for human caring. The two, with their distinctive phenomenal areas of concerns, have the capability of coming together. A caring occasion is the moment when the nurse and another person come together in such a way that an occasion for human caring is created. Both persons come together in a human-human transaction. The one caring for and the one being cared for are influenced by the choices and actions decided within the relationship. Applying the person-centered/humanistic approach in practice is achieved by providing care that recognizes the totality of the human being (the interconnectedness of body, mind, emotion, spirit, society, culture, relationships, context, and environment).
Each patient has their own set of values that are important to them, their own perspectives on life and death, their own belief system, and their own personal needs. According to one of my patients (Anna), holistic communication is the most important to her because she feels a connection with a nurse that is attentive to her emotional needs. “I know that I am terminally ill, however I do not want to be defined by my illness. I appreciate the time nurses take to sit down and really listen to me. I need to share my thoughts on life, death, fears, and also my hopes (Anna, 2011). This is an example of “a caring moment”, in which the individual experiences the nurse’s presence as authentic, caring, compassionate, and sincere.
Providing care that recognizes the totality of the human being (the interconnectedness of body, mind, emotion, spirit, society, culture, relationships, context, and environment). When modern science has nothing further to offer the person, the nurse can continue to use faith-hope to provide a sense of well-being through beliefs which are meaningful to the individual. The goal of a person centered/humanistic therapeutic relationship corresponds to protecting, enhancing, and preserving the person’s dignity, humanity, wholeness, and inner harmony.