Brief History of Occupational Therapy
“What matters to you?” is the question occupational therapists (OTs) have been asking clients since the profession was formally founded in 1917. Originally, OTs were deemed “reconstruction aides” and helped soldiers that required rehabilitation so they could return to civilian employment. While most worked with soldiers on physical conditions, some rehabilitation aides focused on “shell shock” and the implications of stressful conditions that soldiers faced during the war. Throughout the past 105 years, occupational therapy has expanded into several settings including skilled nursing facilities, home health, schools, and more. During their time at Bricolage Wellness, occupational therapy doctoral students Nicole and Emily have been bringing the profession back to its roots by building and offering occupational therapy programming within a mental health setting.
What are the OTs Doing at Bricolage Wellness?
OTs address a person’s occupations, which can be anything that occupies a person’s time (i.e., work, play, self-care, sleep). Regardless of the setting, OTs consider a person’s tasks and values as they collaborate with the client to identify barriers to their participation in those tasks. OTs utilize a client-centered approach, meaning therapy sessions are focused on the activities their clients want and need to do to more effectively and efficiently engage in their life roles. Nicole and Emily have been working with their clients to identify what life activities are most important and digging into the barriers that affect participation in those meaningful activities. Injury and illness (mental and/or physical) can act as barriers; however, Bricolage Wellness’s OT interns also look beyond the person to other factors that influence participation, such as how an activity is done or the environment in which it is completed. After identifying the barriers, the occupational therapy interns and clients explore creative solutions for re-engaging in activities.
Roles and Routines
Nicole and Emily have been tapping into the roles their clients hold, or want to hold, such as: worker, parent, religious participant, spouse, caregiver, home maintainer, etc. and helping them find ways to feel successful and satisfied within those areas. They’ve also been focusing on the importance of building habits and structuring routines so that their clients feel a sense of balance.
If you have questions or are curious about occupational therapy, please contact Nicole or Emily for more information!