Encounters, endings and temporality in psychiatric nursing
This paper is derived from data ohtained from a study in progress. The study is a phenomenological research project grounded in the work of Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer. Psychiatric nurses were interviewed ahont their experience of the nurse-patient encounter. During the course of the study it hecame apparent that the significance of encounters did not 'end' with the termination of the relationship. 'Endings' went further than notions of relationship 'termination' familiar in the psychiatric nursing literature. The ending of the encounter seemed to encapsulate much of the significance of the encounter for the nurse. It also hecame apparent that, for these nurses, time was not experienced in a linear way. Viewed in this non-linear way, the past is no less meaningful for heing past. The past is with us and influences the present, that is, our actions now. The future is no less meaningful for having not yet heen. The future engages us in possihilities. So, unlike the narrow concept of termination, the lived experience of endings captures the totality of the relationship and the encounter and therefore lives on in the present. In the lived experience of endings the past and the future are both significant and have meaning.