City Research Online

The therapeutic relationship and its links to emotional intelligence

Poullis, Joseph (2015). The therapeutic relationship and its links to emotional intelligence. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


The importance of emotional intelligence (EI) as a theoretical construct to understand human emotions has become quite prominent over the last two decades. However, the concept of EI has not been frequently applied to the therapeutic setting. This study investigated the role that EI plays in therapy, the therapist’s perspective of trait EI in his or her work, and the meaning of the therapeutic relationship from therapists’ perspectives. From interviewing 12 counselling psychologists and therapists, and analysing their responses using a grounded theory approach. The main themes that emerged from the data collected were empathetic balance, benevolent connection and mindfulness. Within these themes a number of findings were established. Most EI traits appear to be present within the therapy setting, albeit not in an overtly conscious way. There was also a sense that EI cannot adequately explain or describe the subtle yet very real emotional connection and empathy that the therapist and the client share and experience. From these findings, I present various recommendations for future research to explore the relevance of EI in the therapeutic setting. One suggestion is to explore the differences between ability and trait EI within the therapeutic relationship while another recommends development of appropriate EI teaching modules for psychotherapy training purposes.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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