The purpose of this study is to describe relational encounter and relational competence from the perspective of care, and to clarify the aspects of competence.

Based on phenomenological and social access to the concept of competence, relational competence is discussed with findings within a health professional and educational context.

The conclusion is that health professional relational competence is a personal, profound competence which involves qualitative demands to basic beliefs, will and abilities connected to the moral, relational and practical aspects of care. Relational competence consists of three levels which together describe the potentials in, and the unfolding of, the competence in the encounter: an exterior, visible level which concerns concrete actions, a less visible level which unfolds in the health professional and her/his interaction with the other person and the environment attached to personal knowledge and reflection, and an internal level concerning perception of self and meaning.

Relational competence thus involves special skills and concrete performance, the ability to sense perception, reflection, experience, professional absorption and identity potentials.