• Critical care;
  • Emotional intelligence;
  • Therapeutic relationships


Aims:  The aim of this paper is to gain a greater understanding of the emotional intelligence required to form therapeutic nurse-patient relationships in the context of critical care nursing.

Context:  There is currently a demand for patient-centred nursing in all aspects of health care to improve both quality of care and consumer satisfaction. Central to patient-centred care is the presence of a therapeutic nurse-patient relationships, but the development of these relationships present a challenge in the acute and technological world of critical care nursing.

Theoretical Framework:  Using Titchen’s Skilled Companionship Model as a guide as well as empirical and theoretical knowledge on nurse-patient relationships, this paper presents a reflection on a relationship that the author developed with a patient and his family encountered in her practice as a critical care nurse.

Reflective Conclusions:  Engaging in therapeutic nurse-patient relationships can expose nurses to emotional pain in the context of critical care nursing. The process of reflection can facilitate critical care nurses in the development of the emotional intelligence required to develop and maintain these relationships and this enhances the care of critically ill patients and their families.