ABSTRACT: As mental health nurses acquire and utilize knowledge for practice, both emotion and learning become interrelated, interactive, and interdependent aspects of personal functioning and professional practice. Emotion and learning in combination are powerful sources of meaning and direction. This paper explores how, in addressing these important aspects of ‘becoming’ and ‘being’ a mental health nurse with students, the medium of painting was used to facilitate the exploration of their self in relation to others encountered in recent clinical practice. Broad principles of psychoanalytic theory are used in analysing the experiences depicted in the student paintings, and their explanatory accounts, in order to explore the emotionality of mental health nursing and the complexities of addressing this within current educational processes. What is revealed is that in the uncertainties of everyday clinical and educational practice, working and learning in the place between knowing and not knowing can give rise to unconscious defence mechanisms being used to achieve emotional homeostasis. This paper argues that while working and learning in this hinterland can sometimes be experienced as being threatening and anxiety provoking, it is also a place for personal and professional development and growth. The tutor's role in facilitating such opportunities for growth is seen as being crucial. However, this will require tutors to actively engage in critical reflection in and on their educational practice in order to better understand and use their authentic self in more effectively supporting the student.
International Journal of Mental Health Nursing – Wiley
Published: Apr 1, 2008
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