This blog gets a lot of hits as a search result for Jean Watson's Caritas theory of nursing. A recent comment asked for a real-life, non-academic definition of the theory.
If I had to put it in a brief nutshell, I'd say that theory states that nurses need to recognize the patient not only as a physical being, but as a spiritual being as well. Not only do we concern ourselves with measurable parameters (vital signs, lab results, radiology scan results, etc.) but also with the non-physical needs of the patient as well.
Many of the twelve Caritas (Caring Theories) described in Jean Watson's theory can also be understood in terms of the seven Chakras- the seven energy centers of the body.
- Survival issues such as financial independence, money, and food
- Sense of abundance, well-being, pleasure, sexuality.
- Self-worth, self-confidence, self-esteem.
- Love, joy, inner peace.
- Communication, self-expression of feelings, the truth.
- Intuition, imagination, wisdom, ability to think and make decisions.
- Inner and outer beauty, our connection to spirituality, pure bliss.
In Jean Watson's theory, the well-being of the caregiver is also enhanced. As nurses, we can become more spiritually actualized by creating a unique "time-space relationship" with the patient. By living "in the moment" with the patient, the nurse and patient can become more than the sum of the parts.
To be honest, I don't have much of an idea exactly how that last part happens, and I think this is where the theory becomes a challenge. But I think that an important place to start is to ask the patient questions, truly listen to their answers, and try to be as supportive as a nurse can be:
- Tell me about yourself?
- Tell me about your life experiences?
- Tell me about your bodily sensations?
- Tell me about your spiritual and cultural beliefs?
- Tell me about your goals and expectations?
- Tell me about your health?
- What is it like to be in your situation?
- Tell me how you perceive yourself in this situation?
- What meaning are you giving to this situation?
- Tell me about your health priorities?
- Tell me about the harmony you wish to reach?
(from A Pragmatic View of Jean Watson's Caring Theory, Chantal Cara, Ph.D., RN)
From Jean Watson's A Caring Moment (a meditative recording):
Why are we in this field, when it often seems like we are only there to fix the body, to give physical diagnosis and treatment?
Healing is much more than that... it's about honoring your presence, your connectedness with another person. It is that caring moment that can be a critical turning point in your life and in another person's life, as we touch another person's humanity... This is what healing is all about.
What if we began to pause, and to realize that, maybe, this one moment, with this one person, is the very reason we are here on Earth at this time?
When we hold them in their whole-ness, we hold their healing for them, and we help to sustain them when they are most vulnerable... and as we sustain another person, we are sustaining ourselves...
You can listen to Jean Watson's recordings here.