What is Occupational Therapy?
I think it's the word "occupation" that throws people for a loop!
According to the American OT Association (AOTA), the definition of OT is:
The therapeutic use of occupations including everyday life activities with individuals, groups, populations, or organizations to support participation, performance, and function in roles and situations in home, school, workplace, community and other settings. OT services are provided for habilitation, rehabilitation, and the promotion of health and wellness to those who have or are at risk for developing an illness, injury, disease, disorder, condition, impairment disability, activity limitation or participation restriction. OT addresses the physical, cognitive, psychosocial, sensory-perceptual, and other aspects of performance in a variety of contexts and environments to support engagement in occupations that affect physical and mental health, well being and quality of life. (OT Practice Act, 34-39-3, Definitions)
That's a mouthful! What I take away from that, and the reason I became an OT instead of something else like a counselor or even a physical therapist is this:
OT looks at the things we do every single day that make up our life as a whole and impacts our health, well being and happiness. The word occupation, to me, means the role you are playing. The stuff you do every day through routine and habit that you aren't even always aware of. It's different from a counselor in that we don't just talk about it...we take action on it! Occupational Therapy is the original life coach. We look at how the emotions & your mental state became the habits that got you to this place of un-ease and why. Together, we will look at how we can get you out of that place and back into a purpose driven, meaningful life. An OT slogan I love is: we put the FUN in FUNctional :)
OT is different than other physical types of rehabilitative therapy because we focus on the whole person. We look at how it's impacting your occupations, or better stated: your roles. And therefore your happiness, well-being, and quality of life.
The evaluation process for an OT, if they're encompassing the true definition of OT, should be comprised of an Occupational Profile. In this profile, things like your occupational history (which is essentially your life experiences that have made you who you are today) should be inventoried as well as supports and barriers in your daily routines and habits and even bigger forces like your environments. OTs look at life as a whole to promote balance in meaningful occupations. Health and wellness itself is a direct output of the occupations that occupy your time. You can engage in an occupation because it is inherently healing. Things like your occupational identity and occupational competency should also be reviewed as these items dictate how you're living your life and the WHY behind your actions.
Occupational Therapists can look at the shifts in you roles, routines and habits to see how that's impacted your happiness and quality of life and get you back on center again. OT is creative problem solving through many different means.
Occupational Therapy is an amazing field and I hope more and more practitioners will wake up to all that our scope allows us to do for the people we care most about in this world, people like you!
Why Occupational Therapy?
My Approach to Integrative OT
traditional v holistic
Traditional Occupational Therapy flows from the rehabilitative model in that it helps people solve an issue related to physical health or disease and rarely looks at the whole person- mental and spiritual. It follows Western medicine thinking in its reductionistic approach, which means treating specific parts of the person as separate from the others. Holistic care, and integrative/functional medicine, on the other hand treats the entire person: mind, body & spirit. Much of the time, a physical dis-ease or ailment is simply an unmet or not-attended-to manifestation of an underlying mental, emotional and/or spiritual need. Holistic and Integrative care looks at the personal as a whole to see where the original problem originated to create a long term solution, not a quick fix.
Occupational Therapists are in a good place to meet the growing needs of clients all over the world as they are trained in physical, mental, emotional, and psychological frames of reference and care. OT is also the only field of its kind in that we are focused on action and doing with tangible and attainable goals and results. Occupational Therapy can teach stress management techniques to help clients access their power by decreasing their physical and emotional pain. We can help create peace and life balance to increase the ability to tune into to your own innate intuition and wisdom that will strengthen your energy and enhance your ability to stay well and heal. We can teach you meditation, mindfulness, guided imagery, movement and how to connect to your body as well as health and wellness coaching to calm the mind, increase nutritional balance and overall quality of life and well-being. When you reconnect with passions that have lived dormant for years due to over-work, burnout, and under-balance in areas like leisure, play and rest/sleep, you will feel like a new person!
Personal growth and self-awareness go hand in hand with health. If you want long-lasting, life-changing health that comes with wholeness, you have to do the work. In my practice, I like to use instruments like the Enneagram to help you get to know yourself better so that the choices and habits you're often unaware of are brought to light and the self-sabbotage can stop. You cannot have the lifestyle change of health and happiness without paying attention to the roles that are lifting you up, or dragging you down. When you discover your feelings and personal goals, we can co-create actions for reaching those objectives and you have help along the way from a professional for measurable & attainable goals all the while managing progress and creating accountability.