John Heron’s six-category intervention analysis: towards understanding interpersonal relations and progressing the delivery of clinical supervision for mental health nursing in the United Kingdom
Aims. This paper provides a critique of how Heron’s six-category intervention analysis framework has been adopted by nursing in the United Kingdom (UK) as a theoretical framework in nursing research and model for clinical supervision. From this, its merits as an analytic framework and model for clinical supervision in nursing are discussed.
Background. Heron’s six-category intervention analysis has been acknowledged as a means by which nursing could develop its therapeutic integrity. It has also been used as a theoretical framework in nursing research focusing on nurses’ perceptions of their interpersonal style. More recently descriptions of this framework have been proposed as a structure for clinical supervision. However, its use as a theoretical framework to underpin research investigating the interpersonal skills of nurses and as a model of clinical supervision must firstly be scrutinized.
Findings. Returning to Heron’s original description and comparing this with its current adoption in the UK, misconceptions of this framework can be identified. Its value as an analytic tool investigating interpersonal relations in nursing has still to be evaluated. Furthermore, nursing’s emphasis on certain intervention categories has undermined the potential potency of this framework and its contribution as a model for clinical supervision in nursing.
Conclusion. We argue that Heron’s six-category intervention analysis as a framework to investigate the interpersonal competence of nurses, particularly mental health nurses, requires investigation. This, in turn, would provide an opportunity to challenge the framework’s theoretical standpoint. In addition to its value as an analytic tool, all six categories of Heron’s framework have equal relevance to its contribution in nursing as a supervision model.