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The Theory of

Joyce Travelbee
Human-to-Human Relationship Model
Pamela Salisbury Smith RN
Understanding Theory
 Theory gave rise in nursing history, as nurses moved forward in developing
nursing as a profession and an academic discipline2
 Nurses began focusing on specialized knowledge to guide nursing practice2
 Theory is a collection of ideas that explain that which is real in existence, and
can be demonstrated3
 Nursing theorists have been influenced by such disciplines as anthropology
and sociology3
 21st century based nursing theory practice uses models, philosophies, and
 Theory, if we are to continue moving forward, must be a prerequisite for the
survival of our profession2
Joyce Travelbee: Nurse Theorist

 Psychiatric Nurse, Educator, and Author
 Education and Accomplishments:
Louisiana University BSN; Yale
University MSN; Nurse Educator of
DePaul University, Charity Hospital
School, New York University, and
1926-1973 University of Mississippi; Author of
Interpersonal Aspects of Nursing and
Intervention in Psychiatric Nursing
 Developed The Human-to-Human
Relationship Model
 Based her theory on concepts of
existentialism and logotherapy by Soren
Kierkegaard and Viktor Frankl
 Travelbee’s theory influenced nursing,
healthcare, and the hospice movement
Human-to-Human Relationship Model
 The need for a “Humanistic Revolution” in nursing, with a renewed
devotion on caring and compassion for patients4
 Assist the person, family, or community to avert or palliate the
experiences of sickness and suffering—instilling hope as a maximum goal4
 Hope being a mental state with a yearning to finalize or reach a purpose,
with an expectation of gaining that which is desired4
 Concept of hope would evolve from psychiatric nursing to patients with
chronic illnesses, requiring long-term care4
 To understand the ill patient, is to recognize the person’s uniqueness4
 The nurse’s spiritual values and philosophical beliefs, toward suffering,
would be a driving force in helping people to find meaning in their
Human-to-Human Relationship Model
 The therapeutic use of self in communicating and establishing relationships4
 Finding meaning, during interactions, is essential to the nurse and patient
 Human-to-Human relationships serve to define and make proficient the
practice of nursing4
 Recognizing the importance of sympathy, as well as empathy, in order to
develop human-to-human relationships4
 A nurse exhibiting sympathy is an act of courage because the nurse is risking
pain, and one should recognize the dangers involved in sympathy, such as
over-identification, a distorted sense of pity, causing harm to the patient,
becoming too soft hearted, or being will paralyzer to the patient4
 Involves working through the phases of initial encounter, emerging identity,
empathy, sympathy, and rapport4
Phases of the Nurse-Patient Relationship
 Original Encounter: The need to perceive the human being in the patient,
and vice versa, with the task of breaking the bond of sequence4
 Emerging Identities: Patient and nurse begin to recognize the differing
qualities that each possess, transcending roles by separating self and
experiences from one and another—not using oneself to judge others4
 Developing Feelings of Empathy: Not sharing another’s feelings, but sharing a
psychological state of another—exhibiting the ability to predict the behavior
of others4
 Developing Feelings of Sympathy: Experiencing, sharing, and feeling what
others are experiencing—emotional involvement involving the nurse
transforming sympathy into concrete nursing actions4
Phases of the Nurse-Patient Relationship

 Rapport: The phase of rapport is the end result of all phases. An

accumulation of thoughts, experiences, feelings, and attitudes, involving both
nurse and patient, that they can share, perceive, and communicate, resulting
in a therapeutic relationship4

 Travelbee defined her place in history as a pioneer of nursing theory, because

she used a different approach, the human-to-human relationship between
nurse and patient, as she synthesized her unique ideas that differentiated her
work from that of other theorists4
The Relationship to My Profession
 Travelbee’s Phase of the Nurse –Patient Relationship is exactly how I practice
nursing on a daily basis—it is who I am, without ever thinking about it
 The human-to-human relationship model of nursing, in my opinion, is a tool
for gaining trust, acknowledging respect for others, and showing that
empathy and sympathy are important factors for relationships to be
successful and sustaining, offering a sense of foreseeable well being for the
patient, family, or the community
 I take pride in being able to exhibit this on a daily basis, and it is a belief of
Buddhists that people can achieve compassion with such a skill that it
happens without effort, being unconditional and universal in practice6
Video Empathy: The Human Connection
to Patient Care5
1) Alligood, M., R. (2014). Nursing Theorists and Their Work. Mosby, Inc., 50.

2) Alligood, M., R. (2014). Nursing Theory: Utilization & Application. Mosby, Inc., 2-7.

3) Blais, K., K., & Hayes, J., S. (2011). Professional Nursing Practice: Concepts and
Perspectives, 6th ed., Pearson Education, Inc., 97-99.

4) Butts, J., B. & Rich, K., L. (2011). Philosophies and Theories for Advanced
Nursing Practice. Jones and Barlett Learning, LLC, 280-283.

5) Cosgrove, T. (2013, February 27). Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Caring
[Video file]. Retrieved from

6) Rich, K. (2003). Revisiting Joyce Travelbee’s Question: What’s Wrong With Sympathy?
Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 9(6), 202-203.