Factors Influencing Movement of Chronic Psychiatric Patients From the Orientation to the Working Phase of the Nurse-Client Relationship on an Inpatient Unit Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • PROBLEM: To identify factors influencing movement of nurse-patient dyads from Peplau's orientation phase to the working phase of the nurse-client relationship in a tertiary care psychiatric setting. METHODS: Ten nurse-client dyads were interviewed after the initial nurse-client assignment until a consensus was reached between client, nurse, and investigator/CNS that the relationship was in the working phase. FINDINGS: Factors causing the relationship to progress, from the clients' perspective, were the perceived attitude of the nurse, the nature of the planned therapeutic sessions, and what happened between therapeutic sessions. Factors hindering the development of the relationship included a nurse's or client's unavailability, a sense of distance/inequity, differences in realities/values, and mutual withdrawal. The relationship was perceived as supportive and "powerful" when it progressed to the working phase, but as very negative and like "limbo" if instead it moved to a phase of mutual withdrawal. CONCLUSIONS: Nurses can help clients move from the orientation phase to the working phase by remaining available, consistent, and acting in a way that promotes trust. When the relationship does not progress to the working phase within 6 months, a therapeutic transfer should be considered.


  • Forchuk, Cheryl
  • Westwell, Jan
  • Martin, Mary-lou
  • Azzapardi, Wendy Bamber
  • Kosterewa-Tolman, Donna
  • Hux, Margaret

publication date

  • January 1998