The learning path of a Caritas Coach nurse

By Diane Poulios |

In Chapter 13 of Caritas Coaching, published by Sigma, the author describes her personal path to learning new ways of thinking, feeling, and becoming.

In this chapter, Diane invites us to explore caritas literacies. These serve as a guide to seeing self, others, and the world as whole, valued, and interconnected. Emphasizing all ways of knowing, Diane explores how integrating this approach into her interviewing practices and hiring decisions helps to ensure a good fit for the organization. Finally, Diane shares her experiences incorporating a spiritual dimension into her caring-healing practice. This adds an element of the sacred to the purpose, intentions, and actions of the Caritas CoachSM and serves as a professional development guide for all healthcare professionals.

Diane's Caritas journey
For me, the key part of the question “What does it mean to be and become a Caritas Coach?” is not the label “Caritas Coach,” but the words be and become. Being and becoming define the dynamic ongoing process of Caring Science.

Caritas CoachingOne does not merely study Caring Science, learn its principles and dimensions, and suddenly possess the ability to manifest competency as a Caritas Coach. The evolution of a Caritas Coach is not linear. Rather, it is an inward journey of winding roads that lead to new ways of thinking, feeling, and becoming. The journey invites an exploration of previously held ideas about self and the world.These ideas are figuratively tossed up into the universe and allowed to float back down and realign, enabling us to reinterpret our beliefs and stories through new eyes and wisdom. In this way we become a slowly transformed and transforming spirit.

As we integrate this knowledge with our spirituality and beliefs about self, the world, and our higher power, this caring-loving energy finds a home in our heart. So as we live Caring Science, it creates a foundation of meaning and living—framed in pan-dimensional time, language, creativity, and love—that reflects a new life, spirit, and philosophy, and a renewed relationship with the world. As Watson writes, “Caring and love ultimately become one…we are all called to care, and it is through the energy of Love that we reach out to the universe of possibilities to connect with Other, nature, and that which is greater and more magnificent than our isolated separate, physical-ego existence alone” (Watson, 2005, p. 54).

Of course this is not to say the transition is easy. We struggle with previously held beliefs. This new way of being and becoming is organically tested, challenged, and sometimes masked as we enter each helical turn of change, growth, and understanding. Rogers defines the world as manifesting a helical pattern of increasing complexity and diversity of energetic frequencies. As the helix turns, there is a downward spiral that is inherent in the process of transformation (Rogers, 1988). This explains the meaning of being and becoming.

Transformation is a process of stepping back, letting go, acknowledging self, and eventually moving forward with the new. There is often conflict before transformation. Internal turmoil ensues when we pause to challenge and make sense of new ways of thought. This all occurs before the backdrop of the universe itself, which—seen or unseen—is changing as well. Chaos and conflict come before clarity and unity. Anguish comes before joy.

Being and becoming is the dynamic nature of life and part of what it means to be human. The universe has given us the gift of being conscious of this process, especially if we allow ourselves to be active rather than passive as we journey through it. My ninth grade English teacher challenged the class to write without using the verb “to be” in any form due to what he felt was its inactive and passive nature. He believed there were more descriptive and powerful verbs. Upon reflection as I have undergone the process of being and becoming, I wish he would have allowed responsive discourse regarding this statement. He could have dedicated time to discussing the dynamic nature, power, and use of the verb “to be” in all its conjugations. Being can have great meaning.

As a Caritas Coach, I am introduced to ways of thinking and being, as well as to practices and methods that are considered unconventional in the Western world. For example, Westerners learn of Newton’s third law of motion, which states that for every action (or change) there is an equal and opposite reaction (Newton, 1687). This universal phenomenon is evident and organic. In contrast, a Caritas Coach influences self, others, and the world by integrating and preserving space to allow for a different kind of process not beholden to conventional paradigms. We do this by identifying with another person’s story, synchronizing with one’s life story, and withholding judgment. We help draw connections, identify patterns, create resonance, and guide one toward emergent readiness. In other words, a Caritas Coach encourages new ways of thinking within the Newtonian law of time and action-reaction. The coach faithfully trusts that in this process, a higher good unfolds. The inherent nature of this process is dynamic, emergent, and without hierarchal force (Watson, 2005). When one resonates with this unique caring way of perceiving the world, one is less inclined to revert to the conventional pure Newtonian way of thinking and being.

Healing humanity with universal compassion
I have always felt a strong connection to God or a higher divine force that allows us to surrender to its goodness and love. This inspirational and loving energy spoke forcefully to my heart and soul, calling me to nursing as a child. I understood from a young age that I was meant to serve and care for others. My soul was drawn to a universal compassion for humanity.

As a graduate nursing student, I became interested in the science of unitary human beings, a nursing worldview espoused by Dr. Martha Rogers. This worldview is an integral part of Watson’s science of human caring. This led me to study complementary healing arts such as therapeutic touch, craniosacral therapy, reflexology, shiatsu, creative visualization, and the relaxation response.

I began using these modalities to help cancer patients in hospitals. One was a young female colon cancer patient who was experiencing great pain and anxiety after surgery. I described to her the healing effects of therapeutic touch and asked if she’d like me to administer it to her. She agreed to receive the treatment. After 10 minutes of treatment, the patient smiled. She was amazed by her experience during the treatment. She told me that during the treatment she saw colors and felt a much-needed sense of healing peace. Interestingly I had seen the same colors. We also shared a sense of time as pan-dimensional. Although the treatment lasted only 10 minutes, we both felt we had experienced a healing moment that was much longer.

In contrast, I once cared for a young female patient who had been surgically dismembered during treatment for sarcoma (with little attention to her spirit). This was years before I studied Caring Science. It seemed that during her entire hospital stay, she simply lay in her bed and cried. Her suffering was so extreme, no one quite knew how to be with her. Years later, after I had studied Caring Science, and a philosophy of healing and practice of unconditional love had crystalized in my mind, I wondered how healing that patient’s experience could have been if she’d had a caritas nurse alongside her!

Whether at the point of care, while teaching, or while recruiting staff, Caring Science provides a foundation to actualize true nursing. The theory is clear, foundational, dynamic, focused, and ever evolving to include new ways of knowing and understanding humanity and the world. Nurses help others make sense of critical experiences in ways other professionals may not. Healing humanity is at the core of nursing. Now more than ever, Caring Science illuminates the true essence of nursing and provides the best home in which the nursing spirit and heart can dwell. “It is life giving and life receiving” (Watson, 2008, p. 58).

Click here to read the rest of Chapter 13 from Caritas Coaching in the Virginia Henderson Global Nursing e-Repository of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing (Sigma). 

Click here to buy at the Sigma Marketplace.

Diane Poulios, MA, RN, CHCR, AHN-BC, Caritas Coach, is a nursing recruitment manager at Monmouth Medical Center, an affiliate of RWJBarnabas Health.

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