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Humanistic Approach to Working with a Terminally Ill

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A Humanistic Approach to Working with a Terminally Ill Patient
“Humanistic psychology . . . emphasizes the independent dignity and worth of human beings and their conscious capacity to develop personal competence and self respect” (Humanistic Psychology Overview, 2001). This view of humanistic psychology shows why a humanistic approach is valuable and effective when working with patients who have a terminal illness, such as cancer. This paper will provide an example of a humanistic approach by a medical professional in providing care to a terminally ill patient. This paper will also provide a reflection of my feelings on the approach, my thoughts on how I would prefer a human service worker to work with me in such an instance, and discuss how unconditional positive regard would be presented under these circumstances.
The following example is from Jill Preston’s article in the Journal of Community Nursing, Using Reflective Practice in Palliative Care (2001). Brenda is a patient who was diagnosed with breast cancer and was treated with a mastectomy and radiotherapy. Three years later, Brenda presented back pains to her physician. It was discovered that Brenda had a metastatic tumor on her spine, a terminal condition. Jill Preston was a nurse from the district nursing service who provided Brenda with care. Jill had only visited Brenda three times in the past two months. During the next visit, Jill was shocked to find Brenda looking so pale. Jill greeted Brenda, who smiled. Jill then sat on the bed and had passive conversation about the weather and the children where Brenda had taught. The two women then spoke of treatments to alleviate pain after Jill asked questions regarding Brenda’s illness and current symptoms.
Jill then posed questions to Brenda about the ability to perform personal hygiene and dressing. Brenda replied that things were becoming more difficult…...

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