Staff members' engagement with patients is a critical element of inpatient psychiatric care, essential to safety, the hospitalization experience and the development of a culture of care. Currently broad concerns exist around the amount of time inpatient psychiatric nurses expend in patient engagement and the quality of these interactions. In this paper we present a model of engagement that clarifies necessary skills to support the engagement process. The model is based on Peplau's theory of interpersonal relations, patients' ideas on healing elements of psychiatric hospitalization and research on inpatient therapeutic relationships. We are currently using this model for a web-based teaching/learning course to cultivate interpersonal engagement, and to explicate how through operationalizing their inpatient role, nurses support patients in the development of their mental health and well-being.