Title of ArticleAn enquiry into the spiritual
Type of ArticleCritical Reflection on Practice Development
Author/sChris Johns
ReferenceVolume 3, Issue 2, Article 9
Date of PublicationNovember 2013
Keywordsnarrative, practice development, reflection, spirituality, suffering

Background: Responding appropriately to the spiritual needs of patients can be contentious and complex yet faced with the overt suffering of a patient, nurses or therapists find themselves in a position where they must respond. The complexity of response is illustrated through a narrative of my work with one patient in a hospice setting. Narrative opens a dialogical space to invite and explore such ideas and practice in a critical manner with the aim of creating better worlds for both patients and practitioners.


  • To reveal the complexity of spiritual response through reflection on one particular experience constructed as a narrative
  • To problematise the idea of suffering as something easily reduced into the physical, psychosocial and spiritual

Conclusions: The spiritual response is not something that can be prescribed as technique. Rather it is a reflection of the practitioner’s own spiritual being and not confined to a dichotomy between the scientific and theological.

Implications for practice:

  • Practitioners can use reflective practice as a powerful means for practice development on individual and organisational levels
  • Suffering is the major focus for care in that it transcends any reductionist attitude
  • For those patients approaching death, issues of the ‘spiritual’ are often of greatest concern and yet disguised, requiring a sensitive and empathic approach free from attachment to concrete ideas of what the spiritual means

This article by Chris Johns is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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