Lisa Chaffey, Carolyn A. Unsworth, Ellie Fossey; Relationship Between Intuition and Emotional Intelligence in Occupational Therapists in Mental Health Practice. Am J Occup Ther 2012;66(1):88–96. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2012.001693
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
OBJECTIVE. Clinical reasoning studies have acknowledged tacit aspects of practice, and recent research suggests that clinical reasoning contains intuition informed by tacit knowledge. Intuition also appears to be influenced by awareness and understanding of emotions. This study investigated the relationship between intuition and emotional intelligence among occupational therapists in mental health practice.
METHOD. We mailed a survey containing measures of cognitive style and of use of emotional competencies at work and demographic questions to 400 members of the national occupational therapy association; 134 occupational therapists responded.
RESULTS. A moderate relationship was found between intuitive cognitive style and emotional intelligence. Experienced therapists scored higher on the use of emotional competencies at work and reported a preference for an intuitive cognitive style to a greater extent than novices.
CONCLUSION. This study represents the first attempt to explore occupational therapists’ preferred cognitive style and self-reported emotional intelligence. Findings suggest that exploring emotions through reflective practice could enhance intuitive aspects of clinical reasoning.
Emotional Recognition and Expression refers to the ability to identify and express one's own emotions.
Understanding Emotions, External, refers to the ability to perceive and understand the emotions of others.
Emotions Direct Cognition refers to the extent to which one incorporates emotions into one's decision making and problem solving.
Emotional Management refers to the ability to repair negative moods and maintain positive moods in both oneself and others.
Emotional Control refers to the ability to control strong emotional states such as anger and frustration.
This study found that experienced therapists had a greater preference for an intuitive cognitive style than did novice therapists. Understanding the need for time to develop a pattern library and adequate tacit knowledge may assist occupational therapy supervisors with tempering the use of intuition by novice therapists.
Developing abilities associated with EI, either individually or in supervision, could enhance practice by encouraging occupational therapists to make effective use of intuition within clinical reasoning. It may also contribute to the therapeutic use of self.
Supervision for occupational therapists could be enhanced if it focused not only on practice issues but also on understanding and using emotions within practice.
Including education on EI in occupational therapy course curricula could be beneficial because novice therapists could develop improved skills more quickly by analyzing and articulating their intuitions.
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