Watson's Theory of Human Caring

“Caring begins with being present, open to compassion, mercy, gentleness, loving-kindness, and equanimity toward and with self before one can offer compassionate care to others” (Watson, 2008, p. xviii). The following *Caritas Processes are the guiding framework of this theory:

  • Practicing loving-kindness self and other
  • Being authentically present
  • Cultivating one’s own spiritual practices; deepening self-awareness
  • Developing and sustaining a helping-trusting, authentic caring relationship
  • Being supportive of the expression of positive and negative feelings
  • Creative use of self and all ways of knowing as part of the caring process
  • Engaging in genuine teaching-learning experiences within context of caring relationship – attend to whole person
  • Creating healing environment at all levels
  • Reverentially and respectfully assisting with basic needs
  • Attending to spiritual, mysterious, unknown dimensions of life-death-suffering; “allowing for a miracle”
*Caritas comes from the Greek word meaning “to cherish, to appreciate, to give special attention, if not loving, attention to.” (Watson as cited in Parker, 2001, p. 345).



Parker, M. (2001). Nursing theories and nursing practice. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.Watson, J. (2008). Nursing: The philosophy and science of caring (Rev. ed.). Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.