My views, nonsensical at times from a hopeless daydreamer, so easily distracted and eternally juggling trying to scribble an answer to a question I'm asked all the time....
'So what is O. T?'
According to Google;
Occupational therapy is a science degree-based, health and social care profession. The use of assessment and intervention to develop, recover, or maintain the meaningful activities, or occupations, of individuals, groups, or communities.
It’s been around for ages originally as part of the arts and crafts movement provided by middle class women to those in asylums when it was realised how beneficial work and engagement was with real-life tasks. To feel valued!!
Job finder service
Occupational health service
'a bit like physio'
Providing toileting equipment
Whilst in all honesty all of these in some capacity are true, I can tick each one off during my 18 career as an Occupational Therapist and therapy assistant! I'd like to share a little more of what it really is for me working for Bridge the Gap.
Occupational therapy is being an advocate for the individual and asking 'what do you want to achieve?' 'What matters most for you’? In times of helplessness and exhaustion from physical and mental health illness Occupational therapy will support YOU to problem solve, prioritise and goal set....we love to celebrate your successes and some of them stay with your therapist for life.
As an Occupational Therapist consider physical, emotional, social and your spiritual wellbeing. It's my opinion that physical and mental health are entwined and my approach is always with this in mind; experience has taught me that the body whilst incredible is a fragile balance; perhaps with learning to love ourselves and understand it a little more we may be a little less surprised and frustrated when it fails us. This might be age related, through trauma, biological, chronic illness, congenital but whichever there is rarely if not I dare say never a single response. The reaction to any blip that occurs cannot be predicted by the cause and we cannot rush the process of recovery, discovery and appreciation for what makes us unique.
Occupational therapy for me is about holding that learnt knowledge, both academic and experiential, but adapting the delivery and finding an intervention or tramping a new pathway to an individual’s personal goals. Creativity, flexibility, and positive risk taking to enable an individual to meet their full potential....and beyond!
I love laughter and genuinely think that if you can unlock that, and understand what makes someone belly laugh, you've a way in to building a therapeutic relationship, trust and respect. This relationship takes time but a true skill of any Occupational Therapist is assessing the changing situation, mood, nonverbal cues and adapting to meet the (patient, client, service user, customer) basic human need for connection.
That's not to say my sessions are full of rip roaring laughter, endless banter only interrupted by hi-5s, pondering quotes and mindfulness. Sometimes they feel unappealing and less than shiny but these are moments that I as a therapist must sit with, not fill a silence or attempt to alter the truth but hold a space for the individual. In palliative care I learnt from the bravest of the importance of meaningful reflection and gratitude. What a honour to be part of that journey.
Working within children's mental health and family wellbeing is simply brilliant. It's a vivid mix of children's personalities all waiting to be seen, heard and nurtured. For those many children struggling I acknowledge it's hard. My aim is to impart some knowledge, but ultimately allow a child to freely express their thoughts and unpick those emotions and ideas so when we wobble (and I'm a definite wobbler at times!) they can draw on that knowledge and skill base to own and challenge those thoughts and feelings and move through them. Perhaps not always in full first class comfort but with the self-esteem to know 'I've got this!'. If as an Occupational Therapist I can encourage and enable children to question freely, push their boundaries by using meaningful activities; painting, drawing, dancing, running, nature, comics, scrap booking, cooking, Lego, relay races and collage....just in a single week at Bridge the gap to communicate and empower then I think it's everything.
It’s Monday evening and I should be ironing...as I said before; hopeless daydreamer!