A grounded theory of intuition among occupational therapists in mental health practice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: This study aimed to explore occupational therapists' understanding and use of intuition in mental health practice. Method: Using a grounded theory approach, a theoretical sample of nine occupational therapists practising in mental health settings participated in semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed using the constant comparative method. Findings: Intuition was found to be embedded within clinical reasoning. From the data, intuition was defined as knowledge without conscious awareness of reasoning. The participants viewed intuition as elusive and underground, and suggested that professional experience led to a more comfortable use of intuition. Using intuition relied on therapists' understanding of their own and others' emotions, and intuition partnered analysis within their clinical reasoning. A grounded theory of the use of intuition in mental health settings is proposed. Conclusion: Occupational therapists practising in mental health settings understand intuition to be an instinctive understanding of situations, resulting from their professional experience and the understanding of emotions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-308
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical reasoning
  • Expertise
  • Intuition
  • Mental health practice
  • Occupational therapy practice
  • Qualitative research

Cite this