Embodied Relational Research: How can Researchers’ Competences in Exploring Existential Aspects be Enhanced?

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This methodological essay discusses the following question: How can researchers’ competences in exploring existential aspects related to healthcare be enhanced? Exploring this novel perspective on caring practice may help us better understand and communicate about experiences and issues that matter to others (e.g., patients/users). Two things are needed; firstly, a vocabulary mirroring an “aesthetic-holistic” research approach allowing us to capture the essence of “what it is like”; secondly, development of skills and competences allowing us to understand complex aspects of caring that are embodied, ethically sensitive and sustainable.

To identify personal competences and approaches underpinning research exploring ‘what it is like’ - understanding human existence.

The discussion addresses three questions: A) What does human science exploring human existence search for? B) Which researcher competences are required? C) Which theoretical and practical approaches and dimensions may enhance the researchers’ competences?

We argue that we should find ‘ourselves’ not only grasped through language and a qualitative research-methodological approach, but also in what is reflected in the relation between self, language (dialogue) and the other. It is crucial to listen to the world in an ontological way. Emotions, feelings and bodily sensed understandings can, in some situations, bar us from stepping further into meta-physical listening and from adopting a being-in-the-world stance. In this relational perspective, the researcher may adopt an attentive pace and aesthetical attunement that transcend what cannot be reached through the language of logical, rigorous, precise and rational words, tuning into the ontological mood that exist as the tacit backdrop of our existence. This approach we dub “Embodied Relational Research”.

Researchers who explore humanity may benefit from cultivating awareness, sensitivity and understanding while displaying openness towards the other (the patients’ or users’ experiences). In this context, contemplative and creative dimensions are important to apply.
TidsskriftScandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 18 okt. 2022

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