Caring as the Context, Healing as the Goal

By: Sherry Hole RN BN MN


Holistic Nursing and Theorists

Holistic nursing is as much about the nurse as it is about those that they serve. In fact, holistic nurses commit to honoring their own self-development and self-care first and foremost. It is through this sense of commitment to their own healing that they are able to be facilitators of healing for others.

Holistic nursing is more than a modality, it is a philosophy. It is about self-compassion, spirituality, evolving consciousness and whole care. It is a way of life.

Holistic Nurses recognize and nurture wholeness while honoring the unique beliefs, values and health experience of each individual including the interrelationship between humans and their environment.

Watson on Caring Consciousness & Transpersonal Caring

Watson believes that the practice of human caring and healing are the essence of nursing practice although often neglected within conventional medical models and practices.
She reminds us that a caring holistic approach is central to the practice of nursing and that when caring extends to the nurse, as well as the patient, it serves to also expand the nurse’s self-actualization.

Watson believes that being authentically present cultivates a deeper spiritual connection with self and others, that the nurse’s caring consciousness—essential for connection and understanding—has the potential to provide healing and comfort for both the one being care for and the one caring.

She believes caring is a part of the sacred circle of life and death and that when caring is heart-centered nurses become the caring-healing environment, or the facilitator of healing.
Watson describes transpersonal caring as extending beyond one’s ego self to a deeper connection with spirit and the universe. A transpersonal perspective sees individuals as more than just the physical; rather, as encompassing body, mind and spirit/soul.

A transpersonal relationship requires caring consciousness and intentionality from the nurse with the ability to be centered and focused on caring and healing as opposed to being focused on disease, illness and pathology.

Dossey on Holistic Nursing, Integral Nursing

Dossey encourages us to expand our notions of traditional nursing to advance the practice and philosophies of holistic care. She emphasized that holistic nurses understand the need for multiple modes of understanding and that healing is an attending to body, mind, and spirit which applies within health professions, the care of clients, and everyday life.

Dossey’s Theory of Integral Nursing (TIN) represents the science and art of nursing that examines values, beliefs, assumptions, meaning, purpose and judgements related to how individuals perceive reality. While most curricula focuses on the subjective “I” in the relationship (the patient) and the “WE” (healthcare team), an integral approach in more inclusive, or holistic, focusing on relationships from four perspectives (I; IT; ITS; WE).

She believes an integral approach is transformative allowing for exploration of ideas and possibilities leading to a more comprehensive understanding of the concepts of health-illness, caring-healing, mind-emotion-body and individual-cultural relationships.

Professional Nurse Coaching

Our healthcare system is undergoing a major shift from one of simply treating illness and disease to one that is focused on health promotion and disease prevention. This paradigm shift has brought with it an influx of health and wellness coaches.

Registered Nurses constitute the largest group of healthcare workers and for the 18th year in a row remain the number one trusted profession for their honesty and ethical standards (Gallup poll). With a practice rooted in assisting clients to achieve optimal health and wellness, nursing is stepping forward to claim its rightful position within this emerging coaching role, a role grounded in scholarly evidence-based professional nursing practice.

Professional nurse coaching is a skilled, purposeful and result-oriented interaction that is relationship-focused with the intent of working with the whole person utilizing principles and modalities that honor body-mind-spirit and environment. The quality of caring is central in the nurse client relationship with presence and co-creation being central to the nurse coach-client interaction. Nurse coaches honor wholeness and the unique characteristics, values and beliefs of each client.

Nurse coaches are open and curious to new possibilities that arise through the use of powerful questions and behavioral change approaches that guide the client in the healing process.

Nurse coaches work with individuals, groups and corporations and can incorporate nurse coaching into all areas of nursing practice including community and private practice.
Nurse coaching is founded in professional nurse coaching standards of practice and nurse coaching core values.

Dossey, Luck, Schaub, and Hess. (2013). Nurse Coaching. In Dossey, B. M. & Keegan, L (6th Ed.), Holistic Nursing: A handbook for practice (pp. 189-204). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Canadian Institute of Integrative Nursing Development & Education

Comprehensive Holistic Nurse & Nurse Coaching Certificate Program: An Integrative Approach to Holistic Care of Self & Others