I have thought for some time that teachers – and perhaps especially teachers in ECE – could learn a lot from the work being done in Occupational Therapy.
In an opinion piece in the most recent British Journal of Occupational Therapy, Jacqui McKenna and Jo-anne Mellson consider the importance of emotional intelligence to the profession of Occupational Therapy. They write:
“The importance of the interplay of cognition, affect and motivation in human functioning has been established for some time. Emotional intelligence (EI) is a relatively new model of intelligence, drawing in part on Gardner’s (1983) conceptualisation of multiple intelligences, and specifically intrapersonal and interpersonal elements of personal intelligence. EI considers the extent to which individuals can recognise, understand, process, manage, monitor and utilise emotional information (McKenna 2007). … There is evidence to support the belief that the single most important factor in success, effectiveness and superior performance for healthcare professionals is emotional intelligence (Watkin 2000, Bailey et al 2011).” (p.427)
“The importance of a meaningful and collaborative relationship is fundamental to individualised and culturally sensitive practice…. True rapport is possible only when communication is open and honest and the therapist is able to attend, read non-verbal cues and express emotions clearly and genuinely. This facilitates an effective, collaborative communication process that supports holistic practice.
The emotionally intelligent occupational therapist is warm, genuine, motivated, optimistic and persistent (Mayer and Cobb 2000), able to understand and manage the emotions of self and others. They are able to employ the therapeutic use of self as a dynamic process aimed at engaging the individual in a meaningful and effective affiliation, supporting person-centred practice. Emotional intelligence abilities can be facilitated within a collaborative relationship which supports honest communication, expression, trust and empowerment and can facilitate an adaptive, creative and flexible approach to problem framing and solving.” (p.428)
“The occupational therapist will encounter difficult situations, and needs to manage these effectively: therapists deal with individuals facing challenging and traumatic experiences and must manage their own emotional responses while engaging people in an effective therapeutic alliance. … Weisinger (1998) asserted that high self-awareness results in secure personal and professional decisions, ensuring that occupational therapists are fit for practice and that health issues do not have an impact on performance. Being able to understand one’s own emotional experience in order to promote intellectual growth is specifically linked to success in the workplace, and to reducing the likelihood of burnout. Enabling others – a fundamental role for the occupational therapist – requires reflective monitoring of emotions in both oneself and others, facilitated by EI ability.” (p.428)
“EI skills can facilitate adaptive problem solving, helping to frame problems and use creativity and flexibility in solution finding, while respecting one’s own internal emotional experience and the emotional experience of others.” (p.429)
Ref: (emphases in blue bold mine) Jacqui McKenna and Jo-anne Mellson Emotional intelligence and the occupational therapist. British Journal of Occupational Therapy (September 2013 76(9)), pp.427-430
Reference is to: Bailey C, Murphy R, Porock D (2011) Professional tears: developing emotional intelligence around death and dying in emergency work. Journal of Clinical Nursing 20(23-24), 3364-72
Garnder H (1983) Frames of mind: the theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books
McKenna J (2007) Emotional intelligence training in adjustment to physical disability and illness. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation 14(12), 551-56
Watkin C (2000) Developing emotional intelligence, International Journal of Selection and Assessment 8(2) 89-92