Caring Science Theory

Caring Science Defined

Caring Science encompasses a humanitarian, human science orientation to human caring processes, phenomena and experiences. Caring Science includes arts and humanities as well as science. A Caring Science perspective is grounded in a relational ontology of being-in-relation, and a world view of unity and connectedness of All. Transpersonal Caring acknowledges unity of life and connections that move in concentric circles of caring – from individual, to others, to community, to world, to Planet Earth, to the universe. Caring Science investigations embrace inquiries that are reflective, subjective and interpretative as well as objective-empirical and Caring Science inquiry includes ontological, philosophical, ethical, historical inquiry and studies. In addition, caring science includes multiple epistemological approaches to inquiry including clinical and empirical, but is open to moving into new areas of inquiry that explore other ways of knowing, for example, aesthetic, poetic, narrative, personal, intuitive, kinesthetic, evolving consciousness, intentionality, metaphysical – spiritual, as well as moral-ethical knowing. Caring Science is an evolving new field that is grounded in the discipline of nursing and evolving nursing science, but more recently includes other fields and disciplines in the Academy, for example, Women/Feminist studies, Education, Ecology, Peace Studies, Philosophy/Ethics, Arts and Humanities, Mindbodyspirit Medicine. As such, Caring Science is rapidly becoming an Interdisciplinary or Transdisciplinary field of study. It has relevance to all the health, education, and human service fields and professions.

Core Concepts of Human Caring

Download Core Concepts of Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring/Caring Science

Using Caring Science?

Is your organization using Caring Science and Theory of Human Caring and/or Caritas Practices?

The Theory of Human Caring

The caring model or theory can also be considered a philosophical and moral/ethical foundation for professional nursing and part of the central focus for nursing at the disciplinary level. A model of caring includes a call for both art and science; it offers a framework that embraces and intersects with art, science, humanities, spirituality, and new dimensions of mindbodyspirit medicine and nursing evolving openly as central to human phenomena of nursing practice. I emphasize that it is possible to read, study, learn about, even teach and research the caring theory; however, to truly “get it,” one has to personally experience it; thus the model is both an invitation and an opportunity to interact with the ideas, experiment with and grow within the philosophy, and living it out in one’s personal/professional life.

The ideas as originally developed, as well as in the current evolving phase, provide others a chance to assess, critique and see where, how, or if, one may locate self within the framework or the emerging ideas in relation to their own “theories and philosophies of professional nursing and/or caring practice.”

10 Caritas Processes®

  1. Sustaining humanistic-altruistic values by practice of loving-kindness, compassion and equanimity with self/others.
  2. Being authentically present, enabling faith/hope/belief system; honoring subjective inner, life-world of self/others.
  3. Being sensitive to self and others by cultivating own spiritual practices; beyond ego-self to transpersonal presence.
  4. Developing and sustaining loving, trusting-caring relationships.
  5. Allowing for expression of positive and negative feelings – authentically listening to another person’s story.
  6. Creatively problem-solving-‘solution-seeking’ through caring process; full use of self and artistry of caring-healing practices via use of all ways of knowing/being/doing/becoming.
  7. Engaging in transpersonal teaching and learning within context of caring relationship; staying within other’s frame of reference-shift toward coaching model for expanded health/wellness.
  8. Creating a healing environment at all levels; subtle environment for energetic authentic caring presence.
  9. Reverentially assisting with basic needs as sacred acts, touching mindbodyspirit of spirit of other; sustaining human dignity.
  10. Opening to spiritual, mystery, unknowns-allowing for miracles.

Guiding Questions for Systems using Caring Science Theory

If one chooses to use the caring perspective as theory, model, philosophy, ethic or ethos for transforming self and practice, or self and system, the following questions may help:

  • Is there congruence between (a) the values and major concepts and beliefs in the model and the given nurse, group, system, organization, curriculum, population needs, clinical administrative setting, or other entity that is considering interacting with the caring model to transform and/or improve practice?
  • What is one’s view of human? And what it means to be human, caring, healing, becoming, growing, transforming, etc.
    For example: In words of Teilhard de Chardin: “Are we humans having a spiritual experience, or are we spiritual beings having a human experience?” Such thinking in regard to this philosophical question can guide one’s worldview and help to clarify where one may locate self within the caring framework.
  • Are those interacting and engaging in the model interested in their own personal evolution?
  • Are they committed to seeking authentic connections and caring-healing relationships with self and others?
  • Are those involved “conscious” of their caring-caritas or non-caring consciousness and intentionally in a given moment and at an individual and system level?
  • Are they interested and committed to expanding their caring consciousness and actions to self, other, environment, nature and wider universe?
  • Are those working within the model interested in shifting their focus from a modern medical science-technocure orientation to a true caring-healing-loving model?

This work, in both its original and evolving forms, seeks to develop caring as an ontological and theoretical-philosophical-ethical framework for the profession and discipline of nursing and clarify its mature relationship and distinct intersection with other health sciences. Nursing caring theory based activities as guides to practice, education and research have developed throughout the USA and other parts of the world. Watson’s work is consistently one of the nursing caring theories used as a guide. Nurses’ reflective-critical practice models are increasingly adhering to caring ethic and ethos.

Because the nature of the use of the caring theory is fluid, dynamic, and undergoing constant change in various settings around the world and locally, Dr. Watson is not able to offer updated summaries of activities. Earlier publications seek to provide examples of how the work is used, or has been used in specific settings.

Unitary World View: 
“Human Resides in 
Unitary Field of Consciousness”
Hildegard of Bingen 12th century

Hildegard of Bingen 12th century

Ethic of 
Belonging –
 Infinite Field 
of Universal 

Visionary Award for Caring Science Leadership, Integrative Health & Medicine Conference, October 2015

Transpersonal Caring & the Caring Moment Defined

Transpersonal caring relationships are the foundation of the work; transpersonal conveys a concern for the inner life world and subjective meaning of another who is fully embodied, but transpersonal also goes beyond the ego self and beyond the given moment, reaching to the deeper connections to spirit and with the broader universe. Thus transpersonal caring relationship moves beyond ego-self and radiates to spiritual, even cosmic concerns and connections that tap into healing possibilities and potentials. Transpersonal caring seeks to connect with and embrace the spirit or soul of the other through the processes of caring and healing and being in authentic relation, in the moment.

Such a transpersonal relation is influenced by the caring consciousness and intentionality of the nurse as she or he enters into the life space or phenomenal field of another person, and is able to detect the other person’s condition of being (at the soul, spirit level). It implies a focus on the uniqueness of self and other and the uniqueness of the moment, wherein the coming together is mutual and reciprocal, each fully embodied in the moment, while paradoxically capable of transcending the moment, open to new possibilities.

Transpersonal caring calls for an authenticity of being and becoming, an ability to be present to self and other in a reflective frame; the transpersonal nurse has the ability to center consciousness and intentionality on caring, healing, and wholeness, rather than on disease, illness and pathology.

Transpersonal caring competencies are related to ontological development of the nurse’s human competencies and ways of being and becoming; thus “ontological caring competencies” become as critical in this model as “technological curing competencies” were in the conventional modern, Western nursing-medicine model, now coming to an end.

Within the model of transpersonal caring, clinical caritas consciousness is engaged at a foundational ethical level for entry into this framework. The nurse attempts to enter into and stay within the other’s frame of reference for connecting with the inner life world of meaning and spirit of the other; together they join in a mutual search for meaning and wholeness of being and becoming to potentiate comfort measures, pain control, a sense of well-being, wholeness, or even spiritual transcendence of suffering. The person is viewed as whole and complete, regardless of illness or disease.

Caring Moment
Caring Moment
  • A heart-centered loving energetic field; a turning point
  • A call to higher/deeper consciousness, intentionality
  • An authentic choice of caring/living
  • Requires presence-centering-search for meaning; new level of authenticity – potentiating healing and wholeness

Caring Moments, Caring Occasions

A caring occasion occurs whenever the nurse and another come together with their unique life histories and phenomenal fields in a human-to-human transaction. The coming together in a given moment becomes a focal point in space and time. It becomes transcendent whereby experience and perception take place, but the actual caring occasion has a greater field of its own in a given moment. The process goes beyond itself, yet arises from aspects of itself that become part of the life history of each person, as well as part of some larger, more complex pattern of life.

A caring moment involves an action and choice by both the nurse and the other. The moment of coming together presents them with the opportunity to decide how to be in the moment and in the relationship as where as what to do with and during the moment. If the caring moment is transpersonal, each feels a connection with the other at the spirit level, thus it transcends time and space, opening up new possibilities for healing and human connection at a deeper level than physical interaction. I quote:

…we learn from one another how to be human by identifying ourselves with others, finding their dilemmas in ourselves. What we all learn from it is self-knowledge. The self we learn about …is every self. IT is universal – the human self. We learn to recognize ourselves in others…(it) keeps alive our common humanity and avoids reducing self or other to the moral status of object.


Caring (Healing) Consciousness

The dynamic of transpersonal caring (healing) within a caring moment is manifest in a field of consciousness. The transpersonal dimensions of a caring moment are affected by the nurse’s consciousness in the caring moment, which in turn affects the field of the whole. The role of consciousness with respect to a holographic view of science have been discussed in earlier writings and include the following points:

The whole caring-healing-loving consciousness is contained within a single caring moment.

The one caring and the one being cared for are interconnected; the caring-healing process is connected with the other human(s) and the higher energy of the universe; the caring-healing-loving consciousness of the nurse is communicated to the one being cared for; caring-healing-loving consciousness exists through and transcends time and space and can be dominant over physical dimensions.

Within this context, it is acknowledged that the process is relational and connected; it transcends time, space, and physicality. The process is intersubjective with transcendent possibilities that go beyond the given caring moment.


The Future of Nursing

Nursing’s future and nursing in the future will depend upon nursing maturing as a distinct health, healing and caring profession that it has always represented across time, but has yet to actualize. Nursing, thus ironically, now is challenged to stand and mature within its own paradigm, while simultaneously having to transcend it and share with others. The future already reveals that all health care practitioners will need to work within a shared framework of caring relationships; mindbodyspirit medicine; embracing healing arts, caring practices, and processes; and the spiritual dimensions of care much more completely. Thus, nursing is at its own cross road of possibilities, among world views, paradigms, centuries and eras; invited and required to build upon its heritage and latest evolution in science and technology; but, to transcend itself for a postmodern future yet to be known. However, nursing’s future holds promises of caring and healing mysteries and models yet to unfold as opportunities for offering compassionate caritas service await at individual, system, societal, national and global levels for self, profession, and the broader world community.

Summer/Graduate Unitary Caring Science Scholars Program

Summer/Graduate Unitary Caring Science Scholars Program

Find out more