A Summary of Helen Erickson's Life and Her Instructive Modeling and Role-Modeling Theory
Helen Erickson was born Helen Lorraine Cook in 1936. On her marriage to Lance Erickson in 1957, the psychiatrist Milton Erickson became her father-in-law; he was a major influence on her nursing career and pivotal to the development of her ideas, especially the concept of MRM. In addition to her father-in-law’s instrumentality, Erickson drew on the ideas and works of a number of esteemed psychologists, namely: Piaget, Maslow, Selye and Lazarus.
Erickson obtained her graduate degree in the mid-1970s from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In the intervening years she has published numerous articles and research papers but is best known for the influential book, Modeling and Role Modeling: A Theory and Paradigm, which was co-written with Evelyn M. Tomlin and Mary Ann P. Swain and published in 1983. Two years later, in 1985, Erickson’s far-reaching theoretical contribution was the mobilizing force behind the formation of The Society for the Advancement of Modeling and Role-Modeling at the University of Michigan, a society that remains extant.
Within the framework of Modeling and Role-Modeling, Dr. Erickson lays out five main objectives which she believes to be imperative to nursing intervention. They are: trust-building, promotion of a positive experience for the patient, ceding control to the patient, setting mutually-agreed health-enhancing goals with the patient and affirmation and promotion of the patient’s strengths. At the heart of the theory is Erickson’s belief in the importance of nurses modeling, or recognizing the unique viewpoint that each patient has of the world.