The Nursing Theorist: Hildegard Peplau


Holly Storm, freshman

Hildegard Peplau was a nursing theorist who lived from 1909 to 1999. Hildegard was a renowned nurse as well and was both the executive director and later president of the American Nursing Association. While Peplau has many accolades and positions she served in, she is also known as the mother of psychiatric nursing. Her researching and clinical work in this area lead to the new specialty.

Peplau has contributed greatly to the profession of nursing because she advocated for further education of nurses; created many workshops on several areas, bhildegardut the main focus being on psychiatric nursing; was a consultant to several areas of the military; and she was heavily involved in policy making groups.

She was a theorist who was known for her nurse-patient relationship theory. This theory says that the nurse works with the patient in relation to their c
are. To her, care was not a one-way street. The whole concept of the nurse-patient relationship is that there are four phases in which the nurse and patient maintain a relationship. The first phase is the orientation phase. In the orientation phase is the first phase in which the nurse and the patient begin their relationship together which the nurse being a stranger to the patient. The next phase is the Identification phase in which the patient and the nurse work together and form a relationship. The third phase is the exploitation phase in which the patient is able to take advantage the help offered. The final phase is the Resolution phase when the relationship between the nurse and the patient has ended, as the client no longer needs help (Wayne).

Her theories on the nurse-patient relationship, also known as
the Interpersonal Relationships, were revolutionary and still influence today’s nursing. Nursing schools teach this theory today, but when Hildegard originally wanted to publish her book “Interpersonal Relations in Nursing” in 1942, it was delayed for four years because it was considered too radical because she did not have a physician helping her write the book (Sills).

Hildegard was a revolutionary nurse, teacher, and theorist who has thoroughly influenced nursing forever. Peplau is inspirational to nursing students because she was a figure that showed nursing was a process that was as much about the patient as the care that is given to the patient. The way that she approached nursing and how to care for patients is how student nurses approach taking care of patients today.




Sills, Grace, L. Anne Peplau, and Bertha Reppert. “Hildegard Peplau.” Nursing Theorist Homepage. Web. 30 Jan. 2016.


Wayne, Gil. “Hildegard Peplau – Interpersonal Relations Theory – Nurseslabs.” Nurseslabs. 02 Sept. 2014. Web. 30 Jan. 2016.



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