Communication is central to the nursing theories developed by Jean Watson and Hildegard Peplau, however, communication is defined differently and has a different focus within each theory. According to Peplau “Clear and supportive communication is a key tool in nursing…Language is attributed major importance in Peplau’s theory because it influences the person’s thinking, which influences actions. Therapeutic talking with patients helps them to learn from their dysfunctional thinking patterns and develop cognitive perspectives that influence productive behaviors.”(Fitzpatrick, J. & Whall, A. )
Peplau focuses more on the verbal aspects of communication in the relationship between nurse and patient, using the nurse as a moving force, as a mode to help the patient heal and overcome illness or negative patterns of behavior. Communication in Peplau’s view, assists in the creation of a therapeutic environment with a focus on the patient who is having psychiatric problems.
Jean Watson describes communication and language between the nurse and patient as a phenomena that occurs on a more spiritual level versus just a verbal occurrence or commonplace event. Spiritual connectivity as a mode of communicating is not focused on any specific group of patients as Peplau’s theory is. The communication that occurs beyond the physical realm allows the patient to feel supported and to take the lead in the relationship between the nurse and the patient. “The moment of coming together presents them with the opportunity to decide how to be in the moment, in the relationship—what to do with and in the moment If the caring moment is transpersonal, each feels a connection with the other at the spirit level, thus it transcends time and space, opening up new possibilities for healing and human connection at a deeper level than physical interaction.” (Fitzpatrick, J. & Whall, A.) The patient and nurse both allow themselves to be present, spiritually, to one another which is a direct link to the therapeutic environment that helps the patient to heal.
Peplau and Watson also have different perspectives on the definition of what nursing is. Peplau discusses a more practical definition of nursing via the use of the scientific method, research, as well as nursing assessment as a means of helping a patient to heal. Watson’s approach is one that uses the concept of “care” at the center of her definition of nursing and nursing care, placing the nurse in a position of being central to the patient’s care team. The concept of caring, is what guides the nurse in helping a patient to heal. “The nurse in essence becomes a “sacred architect” who is critical to the healing process.”(Fitzpatrick, J. & Whall, A.)
Jean Watson and Hildegard Peplau present differing views on nursing and the use of specific forms of communication within the interactions that take place between nurse and patient. A common thread exists in that each theorist provides easy ways to incorporate communication into the development of the patient environment as a way to promote the healing process.
Fitzpatrick, J. & Whall, A. (2005). Peplau’s theory of interpersonal relations.
Watsons model of caring. Conceptual Models of Nursing: Analysis and Application.
Upper Saddle River,NJ: Pearson Education Inc.