What is Whole Person Healthcare?

Whole Person Healthcare is an approach to the care of ill people in which there is a deliberate focus on the WHOLE PERSON through knowing the PERSON’S STORY. This STORY aspect is integrated with ‘normal’ medical approaches such as diagnosis and drug treatments.

We are all persons. Every person is a rich mix of physical (body) and subjective (the story) dimensions.  The subjective dimension is many things:  mind, consciousness, personal story, relationship experience, family history, feelings and emotions, culture, gender, spirituality, personal trauma, and much more.

From conception, the physical and subjective dimensions of personhood steadily emerge and develop together (read Co-emergence article). They are not separate even though we talk about minds and bodies as if they are.  They are not even separate from other people, because persons are always persons-in-relationship. But in modern healthcare mind and body are largely kept separate, and, especially in physical illness, with a narrow focus on the body and on technologies to fix, repair or stabilise the body.

Few of us would want to be without the effective body-focused treatments of the modern age. But the subjective aspects of the physically ill person are often neglected. And many people are not aware that their life experience (story) has contributed to them getting and remaining unwell (see Illness Explorer pathway).

Few of us would want to be without the effective body-focused treatments of the modern age. But the subjective aspects of the physically ill person are often neglected.

In Whole Person Healthcare we access these aspects by listening carefully to an ill person’s story (read Medicine & Story article). Responding to the story in the clinic frequently results in more opportunities for healing,  better outcomes, less dependence on drugs, better relationships between ill people and clinicians, and positive changes in the ill person’s life generally. The whole person approach is significantly different to other patient and person-centred approaches (read Naming What We Do article).

This website is about helping patients and clinicians to use the whole person approach to bring about healing in whatever way that has to happen. To understand what this can mean have a look at ‘A patient’s story’ and ‘A clinician’s story’.

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