Title of ArticleRelational inquiry as a path to person-centred practice
Type of ArticleIdeas and Influences
Author/sBetty Ann Robinson
ReferenceVolume 9, Issue 1, Article 13
Date of PublicationMay 2019
KeywordsOntology, unlearning, relational practice, relational inquiry, practice development, person-centred culture

As a PhD candidate studying at the Centre for Person-centred Practice Research at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, I find myself reflecting on my journey to becoming a person-centred practitioner. For many people, practice development has been their path towards creating person-centred cultures; practice development is described as a methodology to make this happen (McCormack et al., 2013). I don’t disagree with this position but I believe there are other paths we can travel to arrive at a person-centred culture. The language and theory of practice development and person-centred practice may have been new to me when I was introduced to them a few years ago but some of the ideas from which they emerge are universal, so it makes sense that there should be multiple paths to developing person-centred cultures. The path I have travelled myself in becoming a person-centred practitioner is one I have not yet seen discussed in the person-centred literature.

Long, long ago, when taking a family nursing course, I was introduced to relational inquiry. This approach to practice had a profound impact on me. It has not only shaped my professional practice, but has influenced who I am as a person. Hartrick Doane and Varcoe (2005; 2015) explain relational inquiry as an approach to practice that acknowledges the dynamic complexity of human health experiences. Using this approach, I recognise that I am always relating to someone or something, whether or not I am aware of it. To understand and engage with this, I am invited to inquire into what is going on around people, inside people and between people, both for those receiving care and those providing care, and to consider the interrelationship and interplay between these three domains. Recognising the intersection of the three as the site where meaning and action emerge enables me to:

‘Consider the meaning of any health experience for each individual in his/her unique context, address the complexities of that experience and enlist multiple forms of knowledge simultaneously to enhance the effectiveness of any intervention’ (Robinson and Hartrick Doane, 2017).

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