Mirror, Mirror: Reflections on Developing the Emotionally Intelligent Practitioner


Nurturance, love, compassion, respect, humanity, self awareness, mind emptying and mindfulness are all qualities considered necessary for the development of the therapeutic relationship which is central to holistic care. Likewise raised levels of academia within nurse education have lead to the notion of emotional intelligence where such qualities, often associated with tacit and experiential knowledge, are inextricably bound with theory, practice and research. In an environment where nursing theory and research dominate, we suggest that such qualities are more likely to be attained if those expected to portray them, students, are themselves in receipt of the same or similar qualities from the organisations, namely education and practice. This paper explores the concept of preparedness in terms of developing the above qualities with those we educate and what might be required of educationalists in achieving this goal. Using psychoanalytic concepts of mirroring, holding and containing we explore the role of the educationalist in ‘preparing’ nurses to become emotionally intelligent practitioners. If we are to move from the rhetoric to the reality of an emotionally intelligent practitioner, nurse educators need to ensure that the student experience, in terms of their own learning, becomes the centre of their educational universe. We believe that this is more likely to occur when we as educationalists are able to personalise the educational process through mirroring love, care and nurturance, thus validating the emotional context of the students’ personal experience as a foundation for their learning.

How to Cite

Warne, T. & McAndrew, S., (2009) “Mirror, Mirror: Reflections on Developing the Emotionally Intelligent Practitioner”, Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Research and Practice 6(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.5920/mhldrp.2009.62157


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Tony Warne
Sue McAndrew






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This article has been peer reviewed.

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