What Is Meant by Therapeutic Use of Self?

In health-care professions, “therapeutic use of self” describes the ability of a caregiver to use his or her personality “consciously and in full awareness in an attempt to establish relatedness and to structure nursing interventions,” according to NursingPlanet.com. The site adds that nurses must be aware and understanding about themselves and must possess a philosophical belief about life, death and the human condition for effective therapeutic use of self.

Professional therapeutic use of self may evolve in a caregiver over time and involves building rapport, trust, respect, sincerity and empathy with the patient.

HumaneHealthcare.com states that the culture of health care is often based on the disease model, which attempts to force nurses into socially accepted methods of “being a good nurse,” meaning the caregiver adopts a position superior to that of the patient. However, when nurses use self in a therapeutic manner, “they focus on mutuality and support.”

The site goes on to say that in this way, nursing is lived through a caring presence, enabling the nurse to “enter the patient’s reality and become part of the patient’s illness experience.” To the extent appropriate, the nurse becomes more engaged with the patient and his or her concerns and recognizes that the quality of their personal interaction influences the patient’s perception of the effectiveness of care.