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Conversations as self-care

By: Dr. Amy E. Rettig

One intervention in my nursing practice is to facilitate intentional conversations. When I first started my role as a psych-mental health APRN in 2016, I was approached by our patient experience department for ideas to support their staff working in the emergency department waiting room. As you might imagine, a waiting room—any waiting room—is never a comfortable place, whether it’s for a healthcare appointment or getting your driver’s license. Usually, there are a lot of people, no one feels “good,” and it’s not uncommon for people to take offense. My intervention for this group would have to be a safe and calm space to learn about resilience.

Conversation and conversations that matter are ways “of harnessing the collective wisdom and self-organizing capacity of groups of any size….” The process of conversation provides participants with the space to address and step up to challenges. Research and evaluation of conversations that matter have been focused on the individual and how they help the person become more resilient and satisfied in life.

In 2017, we created Claiming Resilience©, our method of intentional, facilitated conversations. We wanted to honor the fact that we “show up” and to recognize that sometimes we need help remembering our resilience. Our intentional, facilitated conversation sessions offer, but are not limited to, stress management, self-care training, mindfulness, reflective dialog, difficult topics, and relationship-building in small group conversation.

More and more intentional, facilitated conversations are being held by many in nursing, including the American Nurses Foundation in partnership with the Emergency Nurses Association through their program, NursesTogether during the pandemic; the American Holistic Nurses Association through their program called Racial Healing Circles; and the Oncology Nursing Society’s Sustaining Purpose resources. Hospitals, other organizations, communities, and small groups are coming together to speak with intention and listen with attention.

The discovery, and maybe the whole point, is that we’re not alone. In our lives, it’s easy to get into our own heads and think that all the answers must come from there. In a conversation, it becomes very clear that other people are thinking the same and sometimes feeling the same. Intentional, facilitated conversations support team building, enhance self-care, and protect resilience. They’re worthy of any self-care plan for nurses and others in healthcare.

Dr. Amy E. Rettig provides nursing care for both professional and non-professional caregivers. She presents, publishes and studies well-being (developing the caregiver within) from the perspectives of holism, caring relationships, and systems.



Chesak SS, Bhagra A, Schroeder DR, Foy DA, Cutshall SM, Sood A. Enhancing resilience among new nurses: Feasibility and efficacy of a pilot intervention. Ochsner J. 2015;15(1):38-44.

Crawford EF, Lang AJ, Laffaye C. An evaluation of the psychometric properties of the traumatic events questionnaire in primary care patients. J Trauma Stress. 2008;21(1):109-12. doi:10.1002/jts.20280

The views and opinions expressed by My Nurse Influencer contributors are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or recommendations of the American Nurses Association, the Editorial Advisory Board members, or the Publisher, Editors and staff of American Nurse Journal. These are opinion pieces and are not peer reviewed.

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