Thinking Like an Occupational Therapist

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Joy Anderson, former chair of the occupational therapy department at Eastern Kentucky University, said to me years ago “Once an OT, always and OT”. She was right.

Once an individual has been educated in the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework II (or Uniform Terminology III for OT’s who graduated before 2002), it is impossible to look at life without using the lens of the OT profession.

When a friend voices concern over her job requirements, we immediately think of the occupational profile and mentally perform an analysis of occupational performance. When our child is struggling in school, we examine the environment and activity demands to find adaptations to improve the situation. When our spouse engages in a new hobby, we consider client factors and the “just right challenge” of the hobby with our spouse’s talents. When our parents undergo surgery, we mentally go through all the areas of occupation that might be affected, and think of performance skills and patterns.

In using occupational science to study the occupations and co-occupations of people we interact with, we consider the cultural/family values and meaningfulness of everyday activities.

Whether we are consulting, teaching or advocating for our clients and loved ones, we are using self and occupations therapeutically to achieve life goals. Wherever we are and whomever we are interacting with, our thoughts are never far from “supporting health and participation in life through engagement in occupation” (American Occupational Therapy Association (2008).

By: Cindy Hayden, D. H. Ed., OTR/L, CHT

Dr. Cynthia Hayden is an associate professor of occupational therapy at Eastern Kentucky University. She has substantive clinical experience in rehabilitation and hand therapy and has served as faculty in a community college setting. Her doctoral work includes investigation with online teaching of psychomotor clinical skills and use of video technology in teaching strategies. Dr. Hayden is currently teaching a variety of courses to learn the EKU occupational science curriculum.

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American Occupational Therapy Association. (2008). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process (2nd ed.). The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 62, 6, 625-683.

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