'Is it Occupational Therapy?'

All the new students are arriving at Universities up and down the country this week to start their training. I can hardly believe it's 33 years ago since I started my training. September is 30 years to the month since I came back from three months island hopping around a sun soaked Greece to start my first job as an OT.

I still remember how excited I was working with my first clients. I really felt that after three years of training I was actually living the dream, (before the term was thrown about glibly). After every holiday I was actually joyful, yes joyful about going back to work, and looking forward seeing my clients again. Obviously I was still learning about OT, and still am, but I was formulating what the profession was and what occupational therapy meant to me. For me, occupational therapy is and always has been the leader in a holistic, client centred approach.

Yesterday though, I spoke to a student who was on her second placement. She was puzzled and confused about her experience. She said the service was not led by the clients, it wasn't holistic, and they just laughed when she asked about models of practice. She is not even half way through her OT placement but already she is disillusioned about the profession. It made me feel a little sad, that occupational therapists working in some areas are no longer adhering to what I see as central to our core skills, client centred practice

The student is working in a procedural environment where it felt to her like bed management was more important than the needs of the client. For this student,the reverse is true. She asked me 'Is this really occupational therapy?'  I reflected the question back and asked her to think about it.

The conclusion the student arrived at was that she would prefer to set up her own practice of occupational therapy so that she could implement the fundamental concepts of the profession.

I felt angry that she had had that experience and it made me really question the role of occupational therapy in certain areas. I felt angry that people were not speaking up about the profession and our role. I think OT should be delivered with the core concepts and the underpinning philosophy of person centred practice.

I am lucky, I have set up my own not for profit OT business. At margaret@ot360° I have the autonomy, control and freedom to deliver occupational therapy in a client centred way. I am still as passionate, motivated, and enthusiastic about OT as I was 33 years ago at the start of my training.

Is it time for all therapists to go back to the core concepts of their profession and critically evaluate their current job?

Ask yourself these questions:

'How do I feel the night before I go back to work?'

If it's not a positive response ask yourself another question about your job.

'Is it Occupational Therapy?'

Margaret Spencer

To see how Margaret can offer support to you visit her website www.OT360.co.uk or email margaret@OT360.co.uk


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