Watson's Theory of Caring
University of Phoenix
Theories and Models of Nursing Practice
Watson's Theory of Caring
Jean Watson’s caring philosophy and science in nursing is traced back to its earliest beginning as a textbook for the nursing courses at the University of Colorado (Alligood, 2010). Her initial work at the university laid the foundation for Watson’s theory of caring. Watson’s philosophy “defines the outcome of nursing activity in regard to humanistic aspects of life” (Potter & Perry, 2001, p. 97). Her model is designed around the caring process. She defines caring as “the ethical and moral ideal of nursing that has interpersonal and humanistic qualities” (Alligood, 2010, p. 111). According to Watson, as stated in Potter and Perry (2001), caring represents all the factors a nurse uses in his or her deliverance of health care. The caring process requires that the nurse be knowledgeable in human behavior and responses to actual or potential health problems, an individual’s needs, how to respond to others, and the strengths and limitations of the patient and his or her family as well as the strengths and limitations of the nurse (Potter & Perry, 2001). The nurse also comforts and offers empathy to the patients and his or her family (Potter & Perry, 2001). Watson’s theory is a “complex concept involving the development of a range of knowledge, skills, and expertise encompassing holism, empathy, communication, clinical competence, technical proficiency, and interpersonal skills” (Alligood, 2010, p. 111-112). Watson’s theory of caring has four major concepts, these are the concept of human being, concept of health, concept of nursing, and the concept of environment. As stated by Current Nursing (2010), Watson’s defines the human being as “a valued person in and of himself or herself to be cared for, respected, nurtured, understood and assisted; in general philosophical view of a person as a fully functional integrated self. He, human is viewed as greater than and different from, the sum of his or her parts.” The human being or person is viewed holistically (Alligood, 2001). The person “is a living, growing gestalt that possesses three spheres of being-body, mind, and soul- influenced by the concept of self” (Alligood, 2001, p. 118-119). “The person is neither simply an organism, nor simply spiritual. A person is embodied in experience in nature and the physical world and a person can also transcend the physical world by controlling it, subduing it, changing it, or living in harmony with it” (Watson, 1989, p. 225 as cited by Alligood, 2001, p. 119). The concept of health is defined “as the unity and harmony within the body, mind, and soul and a harmony between self and others and between self and nature and openness to increased possibility” (Alligood, 2010, p. 122). Health is a subjective experience and involves the process of adapting, coping, and growing throughout one’s life (Alligood, 2010). Alligood (2010), states that according to Watson “health focuses on physical, social, esthetic, and moral realms and is viewed as consciousness and a human-environmental energy field. Health reflects a person’s basic striving to actualize and develop the spiritual essence of self” (p. 123). Illness, which may lead to disease is subjective disharmony in a person’s soul within the three spheres (mind, body, and soul) (Alligood, 2010). Watson suggests that health, illness, and disease may exist congruently within a human being (Alligood, 2010). Nursing is described by Watson as a transpersonal interaction that “conveys a human-to-human connection in which both persons are influenced through the relationship and being-together in the moment. This human connection…has a spiritual dimension…that can tap into healing” (Watson, 1999, p. 290, as cited in Alligood, 2010, p. 120). The goal of nursing in the caring-healing process is to achieve a “higher degree of harmony within the mindbodyspirit,...
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