Sunday, March 11, 2012

Joyce Travelbee
Human-to-Human Relationship Model

“A nurse does not only seek to alleviate physical pain or render physical care – she ministers to the whole person. The existence of the suffering whether physical, mental or spiritual is the proper concern of the nurse.”

About the Theorist

      Joyce Travelbee, born in 1926, was a psychiatric nurse, educator and writer. In 1956, she completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing Education at Louisiana State University and her Master of Science Degree in Nursing from Yale University in 1959. She started a doctoral program in Florida in 1973. Unfortunately, she was not able to finish the program because she died later that year. She passed away at the prime age of 47 after a brief sickness.

      In 1952, Travelbee started to be an instructor focusing in Psychiatric Nursing at Depaul Hospital Affiliate School, New Orleans, while working on her baccalaureate degree. Besides that, she also taught Psychiatric Nursing at Charity Hospital School of Nursing in Louisiana State University, New York University and University of Mississippi. In 1970, she was named Project Director at Hotel Dieu School of Nursing in New Orleans. Travelbee was the director of Graduate Education at Louisiana State University School of Nursing until her death.

    In 1963, Travelbee started to publish various articles in nursing journals. Her first book entitled Interpersonal Aspects of Nursing was published in 1966 and 1971. In 1969, she had her second book published entitled: Intervention in Psychiatrics Nursing: Process in One-to-One Relationship.

Basic Concepts

     In every theory, there are concepts being stated. In this theory, Travelbee defined Suffering as, An experience that varies in intensity, duration and depth ... a feeling of unease, ranging from mild, transient mental, physical or mental discomfort to extreme pain and extreme tortured; Nursing as the nurses' spiritual and ethical choices, and perceptions of illness and suffering, is crucial to helping to find meaning, Nursing is to help man to find meaning in the experience of illness and suffering and Nursing has a responsibility to help individuals and their families to find meaning.

      Hope is being defined as Nurse's job to help the patient to maintain hope and avoid hopelessness and Hope is a faith that can and will be changed that would bring something better with it; Communications as "a strict necessity for good nursing care".

      She also stated that using himself therapeutic is Self-awareness and self-understanding, understanding of human behavior, the ability to predict one's own and others' behavior are important in this process. And lastly in her basic concepts, she defined Targeted intellectual approach as Nurse must have a systematic intellectual approach to the patient's situation.

Summary of the theory

      Human to Human Relationship Model Theory of Joyce Travelbee is all about the interrelation of the nurse and the patient. The nurse will provide care and the basic needs while the patient will cooperate for its faster recovery.

      Travelbee’s mentor, Ida Jean Orlando, is one of her influences in her theory. Orlando’s model has similarities to the model that Travelbee proposes. The similarities between the two models are shown in Travelbee’s statement: “the nurse and patient interrelate with each other and by her description of the purpose of Nursing.” She stated that the purpose of nursing is to “assist an individual, family or community to prevent or cope with the experience of illness or suffering, and if necessary, to find meaning in these experiences.”

      She wrote the Nursing Metaparadigm wherein she defined person as Human Being; Health as subjective and objective, suffering as a feeling of displeasure; Illness as being unhealthy; and Environment is not clearly defined. She also defined nursing as an interpersonal process.

     There are interaction phases that Joyce Travelbee wrote in her theory. Original Encounter is the first impression by the nurse to the patient; Emerging Identities is the time when relationships are being started; Empathy is the ability to share in the person’s experience; Sympathy is when the nurse wants to lessen the cause of the patient’s suffering and lastly, Rapport is the relation of Human being to Human being. To cite an example of Interaction Phases is the Emerging Identities. Emerging identities is the time when the nurse and the patient perceive each other’s uniqueness. It is when the patient or the nurse is able to share what they have like the talents/ uniqueness that they possess. At this stage, the relationship becomes closer between the nurse and the patient.

      Joyce Travelbee’s theory as a whole, it encourages the nurse to take a step closer to their patients. Being able to share freely or to act what an efficient nurse is, will help the patient for its faster recovery and to face problems with hope. And a nurse should understand and remember Joyce Travelbee’s theory because it is very important.


      I have read a lot of articles about how can i lend my appreciation to nursing. I often think about it before I sleep or after I eat breakfast and even when I am taking a bath ! Perhaps, I am thinking a lot.

     There are people who send bags to express their appreciation. There are also people who send gift certificates just to extend their appreciation. But for me, appreciation is not materialistic. It sometimes be expressed in words and must be come out from the heart.

      Nursing, has been a very factor in this world. Nursing has helped a lot in our community especially to the sick. It is a healthcare profession focused on the care of individuals, families, and communities so they may attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life from conception to death.

     As for Joyce Travelbees’s Human to Human Relationship Model Theory, her theory is indeed a very great contribution not only to those who are in the Psychiatric Nursing field but in the whole nursing practice. Not only should we be able to assist them towards wellness but also to be able to find meaning in the situation or experiences they had been through whether it may be good or bad. Her theory does not only focus on the patient but as well as with the nurse practitioner, both having a unique personality.

      Joyce Travelbee’s theory is very interesting that it focuses more than just the patient’s physical condition. It focuses on compassion and building rapport with the patient that I feel is extremely important. I found that Travelbee’s psychiatric nursing background subsequent theory resonated with me. Psychiatric nursing is a specialty that I am very interested in pursuing, because I feel nursing goes beyond the physical to a more holistic sense of being.

      The ideas of her theory are applicable to a hospital, nursing home or hospice setting. Rapport being the last stage is very important overall. The idea of her theory is fully functional when rapport is involved. 

      Like what Joyce Travelbee said, “A nurse does not only seek to alleviate physical pain or render physical care – she ministers to the whole person. The existence of suffering, whether physical, mental or spiritual is the proper concern of the nurse.” These words of Joyce Travelbee are very encouraging and touching.

      I believed that the Human-to-human Relationship Model shows promise in providing improved patient care for the future. It transcends the idea of the physical and helps focus on the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of the patient. This type of treatment for sick people allows a holistic approach and greets them with genuine interest. When other methods fail, alternatives are considered in hopes to give a patient the best possible care .

     “We must continually question the value of our achievement, continue learning, and actively seek to improve our ability to gain an increased understanding of the human condition” (Travelbee, 1963, p. 72). Travelbee recognized this need in establishing nursing to patient relationships.

       I believed that the human-to-human relationship model will provide the unique personalized care needed for today and the future.