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The Importance of Self-Awareness for Healthcare Workers

How does a health care worker use self-awareness / empathy / emotional intelligence when communicating with the person receiving care in a health setting and what may be the benefits for the healthcare worker and the person receiving care?

Self-awareness is significant for health care worker as they need to control their affective, behavioral and cognitive self in order to participate in therapeutic relationships more effectively. It is a basic skill needed for reflective practice as a result being self-aware supports whole process of individual being conscious of their beliefs, qualities, values, limitations and strength. It is essential for healthcare worker to develop and understand good interpersonal skills and therapeutic relationship with clients or patients and their family members. By using self-awareness, they are capable to continuously learn to use themselves while interacting with others. It is a significant tool to establish a therapeutic relationship with clients or patients for therapeutic healing. Communication is a crucial skill of modern nursing, and there are several ways range of communication process which is appropriate in healthcare settings that includes, verbal, non-verbal, formal, informal, technology aided etc. Self-awareness helps healthcare worker to enhance health delivery and improve communication skills as well  (Dodge, 2017). It allows them to select appropriate therapeutic intervention from wide range of options in order to provide complete benefits to client or patients. It is an objective evaluation of the oneself and is very essential components in the relationship of health care provider and patients. It also helps clients improve their healing process, control anger, enhance gratitude towards other patients etc.

Self-awareness is a state of being aware of several aspects of self that involves behaviors, feelings and traits. The concept of self is important in any medical alliance often for those clients or patients who are psychologically distressed or physically sick. In health care, it is always considered as the most essential and important aspect of health care professionals like nurses (Symons, et al., 2009). It makes them more competent in provision of good quality health care and provides greater satisfaction in health care and provides greater satisfaction in patient care. Several literature shows that it is a transformative and dynamic process of change and self-reflection (Haley, et al., 2017 ). Eventually it is the application of self-assessment to guide and examine in a genuine way, that helps nurses and other health care worker to promote interpersonal relationships with their clients or patients helping them in recovery process. Using self-awareness in a healthy way is an initial step of taking care of themselves and becoming resilient. Moreover, it leads to engage in healthy behaviors, leading to become better health care worker to resulting to provide better patient care.

The Different Aspects of Self-Awareness


Self-awareness is a key factor for therapeutic communication skills. It is also used as a communication tool by healthcare workers to help patients or client feel better. It is important for health care worker to determine their behavior, values and attitude because they have to constantly interact with patient or clients who have different and unique characteristics. While providing holistic care to clients it is very crucial to understand the differences and similarities between each individual (Stonehouse, 2010). So, it is important for them to know that how their behavior, reaction and motive can affect others. Self-awareness process compels every medical professional to evaluate their value positions as these prejudices and biases are not projected on to patients or client, subsequently they don’t reject people who don’t have similar beliefs and values. Thus, by using self-awareness effectively they must have good knowledge of patterns of their personal response, limitations and strengths. For example: basic principle of psychiatric nursing is to know yourself. In this case self-awareness is significant as psychological state of nurse effects the way they analyses patient’s information. The process of self-examination or self-evaluation adds dimensions to patient-nurse relationship and appropriate understanding to determine patient responses, thus helping health care worker to explore these issues with their patent or client (Zhi, 2017). Uncontrolled emotions, lack of insights and unconscious body language are potentially harmful.  In order to obtain have a positive experience, health care providers should not push their care task just to complete it, instead they should help their patient by caring in a way that helps to enhance their self-esteem, improve level of independence and facilitate better health.

Therapeutic communication is significant in medical professionals. It helps them to care for their patient in a holistic way. The concept of implementing one’s action to change patient or clients can be defined as therapeutic use of self. It helps effectively in the intervention and evaluation process by starting a well-planned interaction with process by starting a well-planned interaction with patients in order to improve their health problems provide reassurance, alleviate anxiety or fear, obtain important information, give advice provide information. Therapeutic use of self is an important technique used by health care worker to engage patients and clients to get better outcome during treatment (Sanchez-Reilly, et al., 2013). Basically, it is as process of being aware of themselves i.e. body language, verbal language and personal information they choose to share while interacting with a patient and using their rapport and make patient feel motivated, care and that they can trust them. The objective of therapeutic alliance is to ease the emergence of the true self lies beyond self-concepts, sub personalities and self-images, needs that the person takes full responsibility for being fully human or themselves. Therapeutic communication is used to assist patient or client to understand about their treatment and condition, motivating them to express their feelings and share ideas, while displaying respect and acknowledge her opinion. Whereas non-therapeutic communication affects healthcare worker’s relationship with patients by putting obstacles in the way of trusting, open and respectful dialogue (Ünal, 2012).

Self-Awareness and Communication in Healthcare Settings

It is vital for personal growth which helps person to improve performance and manage self it also helps to set realistic and appropriate goals and manage career and personal life stressors.  It helps to analyze similarities and differences between people. Thus, it helps to develop interpersonal relationship and also assists individual’s communication towards needs of others.


It has been found that insights, mindfulness and self-reflection characteristics of self-awareness helps to become acceptable person, whereas mindfulness and rumination leads to emotional burden. So, self-awareness is significant to self-reflect without worrying about one’s negative traits and memories. This is why self-awareness is also important foe patients as it will increase their healing process (Cherry, 2018). It is a method that helps heath care professionals to engage clients, and assist them to recover from their health issues, good metal health and tolerate pain.  It also helps clients to empathize others who has encounter the same issue by using their own experiences. It provides patient a sense of gratitude which enables to display compassion to other patients.  Self-awareness provides an opportunity to reflect to their past and helps them to improve their life. They can improve mentally through self-assessment which enables them to control anger, high self-esteem etc.

It is essential in the health care service as it comprises of three interrelated services like affective, cognitive and behavioral.  these can be described as feeling, acting and thinking. For example: action taken by someone could be influenced by how he is feeling about it; nurses feeling uncomfortable while dealing with dying patients could lead her to avoid patient’s family or group (Adams, 2010). Mostly, communication starts with nonverbal signs and tone of inflection or voice, which can be more powerful than the spoken words. If health care worker is not aware of their body language, for example: not making an eye contact or presenting closed posture could have negative impact on patient.

Some people have good evaluation and understanding of their emotions and feelings but some people have difficulties with it and needs conscious effort to establish self-awareness. It is very important the people should listen to their inner dialogue to have better self-awareness of the behaviors and needs. Therefore, it helps in identifying unhealthy behavior and changing them into good ones. For example: it is significant for health care workers as sometimes they bring their own unsettled personal issues while caring to their patients who is sick or wounded (Anon., 2014). Therefore, without self-awareness and conscious mind it threatens and deteriorates the effectiveness of client -nurse relationship. Being a health care worker, it is important to understand and be aware of their verbal and non-verbal indicator body language.

Therapeutic Use of Self: Using Self-Awareness in Healthcare

Health care workers mostly follow framework of Johari window model that might be unknowingly or knowingly as a tool of self-awareness while communicating with their clients or patients (Anon., 2013). This model is basically used to explore several aspects of one’s self which consists of 4 quadrants i.e. blind, open, unknown and hidden. Health professionals involve their clients in the process of self-awareness in three stages which help their patients in healing process. These stages involve: now or present, transition stage and the last one is regrouping stage. It is very significant specifically for the new health care professionals who face difficulties while communicating with their patients.

By identifying flaws in the present phase, health care workers can take help from their fellow workers or senior colleagues where they can help by communicating to her or his clients. after picking their flaws, health care workers can find way, resources and processes to solve their limitation or flaws in the limitation phase (Adele, 2015). Finally, in regrouping stage, they can use the positive changes or transformation in client to solve personal or hidden issue. This method helps patients in their healing process. This process is painful and complex as mostly patients don’t let out their weakness in front of others easily but they have to be open to positive change into better person which is effective in healing process as understanding oneself may help to understand others as well. Thus understanding each other via effective communication, build a strong relationship between patients and healthcare workers, which ensures better and appropriate care from health care professionals which will smooth the healing process for the client (Beaulieu, et al., 2011). However, in healthcare centers there is a need to develop and maintain support groups and invite counselors or mentors to the meetings for support and encouragement purposes. Many health professionals use this process as it gives positive results. They even follow up with their patients or clients after they have been released which assist them to build positive relationship as self-awareness is a continuous process.


Health professionals use it as a communication tool in order to present the clients the capability to solve the issues they face when they are sick. So effective communication skills are important in any healthcare setting as healthcare worker have to interact with clients or patients to explain investigation, treatment and diagnosis; involves the client in decision making process; communicating with other medical professionals; to break bad news, communicating with relatives, dealing with stressed or anxious clients or relatives; giving advice on health promotion, risk factors and lifestyle; seeking for consent, giving instructions on discharge etc. (Edwards, n.d.)

The Role of Self-Awareness in Personal Growth and Career Development

Individual’s self-concept impacts their attitude, behavior and perception and it can be seen during interpersonal communication. Interpersonal communication is a communication process by which people exchange their feelings, meanings and information through non-verbal or verbal messages (Anon., n.d.). It generally involves communication between healthcare worker and clients and between internal staffs of healthcare.  Similarly, organizational communication is a communication used within it and the flow of message or information could be formal or informal within healthcare workers. Verbal communication includes use of words whereas, nonverbal communication is a communication behavior which do not involve any kind of linguistic contact. It includes smiling, head nods, facial expressions etc. The significance of healthcare worker and patient rapport is recognized as physical wellbeing of patients and process of healing largely depends on effective technological knowledge with better interpersonal communication. As health care provider supportive communication helps to lower the anxiety of patients, it is important to maintain while interacting with them. Empathy, affect is linked to nonverbal communication and emotion related behaviors i.e. emotional behaviors and encoding and coding nonverbal communication.

There are several reasons that fails interpersonal communications. The message exchanged between the health care worker and client might be misinterpreted or miscommunicated due to communication barriers. So, it is always important to take feedbacks to confirm that their message has been clearly understood. The skills like clarification, reflection and active listening can be helpful but communicator must be aware of the communication barriers and how to overcome or avoid them. Communication barriers can occur at any stage of communication which may distort message and create is understanding and confusion. So effective communication helps to overcome barriers and convey concise and clear message (Anon., n.d.).

There are several potential barriers of effective communication skills that involves following: emotional barriers and taboos, use of complex, complicated technical or unfamiliar terms; lack of interest, attention, irrelevance or distraction to the receiver; cultural differences; physical barriers to non-verbal communication; attitudinal barriers; psychological barriers language differences; physical barriers; systematic barriers; differences in viewpoints and perceptions etc. Conflicts occurs in every workplace, even at health care due to several barriers (Brady & Quirke, 2017). It has negative influence which causes decreased client satisfaction, increases employee turnover and dysfunctional team work. Proper training in conflict resolution training helps to improve productivity, team work and employee and patient satisfaction. Frequent reasons of conflict include conflicts of interest, lack of clear jurisdiction, changes within the organization; personality differences, poor communication, lack of clarity etc.  Conflict cannot be dodged but it can be managed, so it is vital to implement skills that can be acquired to manage difficult interaction or conversation skills to avoid conflict can be acquired and conflict competence can be learned which is the capacity to use and develop emotional, behavioral and cognitive skills which increases productive results of conflict by decreasing possibility of harm or escalation.

Self-Awareness for Patients: Improving Healing Process


There are several successful models of conflict management which involves ways to effectively address conflicts and common responses to it (Anon., 2013).

The common fundamental principles of all these models are as follows:

  • Conflicts are unavoidable but its consequences can be managed.
  • Active management of conflict is better than avoiding it.
  • Individual must be encouraged to address conflict.
  • Cognitive, emotional, behavioral skill can be learned and acquired.
  • Self-awareness is needed to develop emotional skills

To resolve conflicts, it is important to develop self-awareness with respect to one’s emotional, physical reaction to circumstances that involvies conflict.  The most important and common conflict resolution approaches include: accommodating, avoiding, compromising, collaborating and competing (Overton & Lowry, 2013).

Conclusion:

From the above paper it is evident that self-awareness is one of the essential therapeutic tools for patient and service provider relationship. The more health care worker will be self-aware the more it will enhance caring in a therapeutic environment. When health care professionals are self-aware, the therapeutic environment formed to increase caring is effective and efficient. Similarly, when clients are self-aware, then the treatment provided to them will increase the healing process. Therefore, it is important for both healthcare worker and client to be self-aware as it creates appropriate environment for healing and maintain good relation between them. It is also sed as a communication tool by healthcare provides. Effective communication between health care worker and client is a core clinical skill which is related with positive health outcomes like improved general health, physiologic measures, symptom resolution and well as increased client satisfaction

Hence, it is recommended that health professional curriculum must include several aspects on development of self-awareness. They should also be provided where they can get guidance and help to learn about self as an effective healing process

References:

Adams, R. J., 2010. Improving health outcomes with better patient understanding and education. Risk Manag Healthc Policy, Volume 3, p. 61–72.

Adele, R., 2015. Self-awareness is just as important as clinical knowledge. [Online]
Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/self-awareness-just-important-clinical-knowledge-rebecca-lanigan
[Accessed 25 May 2018].

Anon., 2013. Self-awareness in conflict situations. [Online]
Available at: https://etraining.communitydoor.org.au/mod/page/view.php?id=10
[Accessed 26 May 2018].

Anon., 2013. Understanding the Johari Window model. [Online]
Available at: https://www.selfawareness.org.uk/news/understanding-the-johari-window-model
[Accessed 26 May 2018].

Anon., 2014. Interpersonal Communication: Self-Awareness. [Online]
Available at: https://libguides.valenciacollege.edu/nseinterpersonalcommunication/awareness
[Accessed 26 May 2018].

Anon., n.d. Barriers to Effective Communication. [Online]
Available at: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/barriers-communication.html
[Accessed 26 May 2018].

Anon., n.d. Interpersonal Skills. [Online]
Available at: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/interpersonal-skills.html
[Accessed 26 May 2018].

Beaulieu, M. D., Beaulieu, C. & Pineault, R., 2011. Interpersonal Communication from the Patient Perspective: Comparison of Primary Healthcare Evaluation Instruments. NCBI, Volume 7, p. 108–123.

Brady, A.-M. & Quirke, M. B., 2017. Barriers to effective, safe communication and workflow between nurses and non-consultant hospital doctors during out-of-hours. International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 29 (7), p. 929–934.

Cherry, K., 2018. What Is Self-Awareness?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-self-awareness-2795023
[Accessed 25 May 2018].

Dodge, A., 2017. Types of communication in care setting. [Online]
Available at: https://careertrend.com/info-7813454-types-communication-care-setting.html
[Accessed 26 May 2018].

Edwards, S., n.d. Self Awareness & Effective Communication Skills. [Online]
Available at: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/Susie%20Edwards1.pdf
[Accessed 26 May 2018].

Haley, B., Barone, C. & Wright, P., 2017 . Relationships among active listening, self-awareness, empathy, and patient-centered care in associate and baccalaureate degree nursing students. Nursing Plus Open, Volume 3, pp. 11-16.

Overton, A. R. & Lowry, A. C., 2013. Conflict Management: Difficult Conversations with Difficult People. PMC, 26(4), p. 259–264.

Sanchez-Reilly, S., Morrison, L. J. & Carey, E., 2013. Caring for oneself to care for others: physicians and their self-care. The Journal of Supportive Oncology, 11(2), p. 75–81.

Stonehouse, D., 2010. Self-awareness and the support worker. British Journal of Healthcare Assistants, 9(10), p. 45.

Symons, A. B., McGuigan, D. & Orrange, S., 2009. A tool for self-assessment of communication skills and professionalism in residents. BMC Med Education, Volume 9.

Ünal, S., 2012. Evaluating the Effect of Self-Awareness and Communication Techniques on Nurses' Assertiveness and Self-Esteem. Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession, 43(1).

Zhi, H. L. Z., 2017. Self-Awareness of Disease Stigma: Reflections of Healthcare Professionals. PubMed, 64(3), pp. 12-18.

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