Personal and Spiritual Knowing

Contributors: Deborah Lindell and Peggy Chinn
Updated October 27, 2022

Blogs related to Personal and Spiritual Knowing

These forms of inner knowing of the Self are essential to nursing holistic practice and are a key means by which  nurses demonstrate the unique contributions they bring to patient outcomes and healthcare.  

In practice, personal knowing is expressed in the form of “therapeutic use of Self.”  This means that each nurse draws on their own interpretation and meaning of a particular situation to connect with the experience of the patient.  The concept of spiritual knowing extends this idea, which Willis and Leone-Sheehan describe as “drawing upon wisdom deep within ourselves that reflects our experiences as healers and teachers oriented towards all that is good, wholesome, and healing in being human.” (see

Personal knowing addresses the following questions: 

  • Do I know what I do?
  • Do I do what I know?

The nurse engaging in personal knowing promotes  intentional, therapeutic, healing relationships with the patient. Patients and nurses feel “connected” with the other and patients experience caring and compassion by the nurse. This may be viewed as simultaneity of energy fields. The nurse also uses relationships to promote effective collaboration and communication with the patient’s significant others and the healthcare team.  

Engaging in personal knowing requires the nurse to be authentic, present, and mindful so they can deeply focus on the current situation. The nurse seeks to understand their own and the patient’s “ost ” or narratives as they relate to the patient encounter and be aware of their own biases and experiences that could influence healing relationships. 

The patterns of knowing are not distinct; rather, each supports and enhances other patterns. For example, the nurse practices the “art of nursing” by integrating personal,  aesthetic and ethical knowing.


Blog posts related to Personal and Spiritual Knowing

Chinn, Peggy L., Kramer, Maeona K., & Sitzman, Kathleen. (2022). Knowledge Development in Nursing: Theory and Process (11th ed.). Elsevier.

Willis, Danny G., & Leone-Sheehan, Danielle M. (2019). Spiritual Knowing Another Pattern of Knowing in the Discipline. ANS: Advances in Nursing Science, 42(1).

Pesut, B., Fowler, M., Taylor, E. J., Reimer-Kirkham, S., & Sawatzky, R. (2008). Conceptualising spirituality and religion for healthcare. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17, 2803–2810.

Pesut, B. (2016). There be dragons: effects of unexplored religion on nurses’ competence in spiritual care. Nursing Inquiry, 23(3), 191–199.