Perceptual shifts of priority: a qualitative study bringing emotional intelligence to the foreground for nurses in talk-based therapy roles


  • J. HURLEY PhD Degree Counselling MHN RN

    Corresponding author
    1. Senior Lecturer, School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia
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J. Hurley, School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, NSW 2450, Australia, E-mail:


Accessible summary

  • • Emotional intelligence capabilities have been associated with the identity of mental health nurses and as being desired attributes by users of mental health services. Simultaneously, the nursing profession is increasing its delivery of talk-based therapies, with policy-driven preparation for such roles prioritizing therapy approaches rather than intrapersonal capability.
  • • This paper adds the voiced experiences of mental health nurses who construct a truth that a shifting of priorities toward developing emotionally intelligent capabilities is necessary for mental health nurses to successfully deliver talk-based therapies.


This paper presents the findings of a qualitative study conceptually framed by social constructionism that explored the experiences of mental health nurses engaging in talk-based therapy roles. Constructions from the participants' narratives are shown to have a powerful resonance with the construct of emotional intelligence, a resonance also echoed from the literature, and policies from the UK identified within the paper. Forwarded is that rather than prioritizing the development of technical approaches of specific therapies, nurses should equally be prepared for talk-based therapy roles through developing their emotionally intelligence capabilities.