The human encounter as the basis of care and support: A new article by Sebastian Monteux and Angelika Monteux

The human encounter as the basis of care and support: A new article by Sebastian Monteux and Angelika Monteux

Sebastian Monteux and Angelika Monteux’s article “Human encounters: The core of everyday care practice” appeared in the scholarly periodical “International Journal of Social Pedagogy” on September 7, 2020.


Although there is increasing recognition within health and social care policy that relationships are central within ‘people work’, little attention is given to exploring the nature and purpose of these within everyday care practice. Social pedagogues appreciate that human relationships, in all their complexity, are intrinsically valuable and, therefore, central to everyday care practice. This article explores human encounters as the foundation of relational practice, and we discuss how the space for true encounter incorporates spiritual care and a movement from dependence to interdependence. It proposes that everyday care practice is best understood as a series of human encounters that requires courage to embrace the complexity and uncertainty of encountering the essential humanity of those we care for. In order to do so, practitioners need to develop moral integrity, enabling them to navigate situations of care without fixed recipes. Drawing on perspectives from care ethics and the Nordic care tradition, this article contextualises the discussion within the authors’ extensive care practice experience and, in focusing on human encounters as the basis of relational care, presents implications for practitioners in diverse everyday care contexts.

The authors:

Sebastian Monteux is a registered mental health nurse and lecturer in mental health nursing at Abertay University. He was born and grew up in the Camphill Schools, Aberdeen, and has previously worked in Scotland and the Netherlands in the NHS, in the fields of local authority residential child care, adult social care and learning disability, and trained as a Steiner Waldorf School class-teacher.

Angelika Monteux – now retired – came to the Camphill Schools in Aberdeen in 1973 after having completed a degree in education in Germany. She has extensive experience of teaching children with additional support needs and carrying responsibility for life-sharing residential homes. She was a founder member and Camphill programme director of the former BA in Curative Education, later the BA in Social Pedagogy delivered in partnership with Aberdeen University.