Monthly Archives: May 2007

Invisible or visible – 10 days, 10 years forever

Frozen silverbeetA while back I was watching a one of those 10 years younger in 10 days programmes and got hooked because the person being ‘done’ was an occupational therapy student. I was interested to see how they would portray occupational therapy. Sometimes you hear us spoken about as the invisible profession. If we do our job well the person we are working with sees themselves as having achieved their goal and feels they got there through their own efforts. So how do we make what we do visible.

As per the usual pattern of TV programmes they gave a 10-15 sound bite to something about occupational therapy. They chose to show occupational therapy students seeing what it is like to make a sandwich one handed.

I have for a while believed that we can’t wait for perfect examples we need to get into the public consciousness. I also believe that we sometimes get stuck on thinking we need to portray the whole range and depth of occupational therapy practice in everything that goes out as publicity. So what would I do in 10-15 seconds…….in no particular order……..

first the easy sound/visual bites – these are the ones associated with adaptation

adjusting a wheelchair for an individual

making a splint

working with a client to bring about an environmental modification

teaching someone energy saving techniques

the more difficult sound/visual bites are associated with how to portray the role we have in bringing about a clients engagement or participation

A group of children playing interactively together – but how do you show that the interactivity has been facilitated because of how the occupational therapist set the environment and the selection of the occupation/task/game?

Doing a work site visit….

…….um any other thoughts


Therapeutic Use of Self

Grapes BannockburnTherapeutic use of self or conscious use of self is often recognized as an important therapeutic tool or by some as a core skill of occupational therapy. Two events have recently renewed my interest in therapuetic use of self. Completing a thesis on the supervision of occupational therapists in New Zealand – where one of the important functions of supervision was seen as looking at ‘me as a therapist’ and then running into an ‘ex’ occupational therapist at an occupational therapy awareness week activity who stated that the skill she continues to use and values most from her training is that of therapeutic/conscious use of self. So what is it? Mosey states that conscious use of self is “the use of oneself in such a way that one becomes an effective tool in the evaluation and intervention process” (Mosey, 1986, p. 199). And sees that it “involves a planned interaction with another person in order to alleviate fear or anxiety, provide reassurance, obtain necessary information, provide information, give advice, and assist the other individual to gain more appreciation of, more expression of, and more functional use of his or her latent inner resources” (p.199).

“conscious use of self includes but is greater than rapport and the art of practice” (Mosey, 1986, p. 199). It is not spontaneous, or unconscious but requires forethought – what the message will be and how you will get it across.

What does it involve?

Understanding Neutrality/empathy Caring Trust

How do you do it ? with rapport, insight, patience, humour, energy, honesty, voice and body language Is it “the exploitation of personal characteristics which are of benefit to the therapeutic relationship” (Hagedorn, 2000, p. 61) …umh?

So what do you think? …how about posting on any or all of the following

What do you see as the key elements of therapeutic use of self?

Keilhofner and Forsyth indicate that the therapeutic relationship is synonymous with therapeutic use of self – is it ?

and …….. Is this skill any better developed in occupational therapist than in others – if so how?


Hagedorn, R. (2000). Tools of practice in occupational therapy: A structured approach to core skills and processes.
Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

Kielhofner, G. & Forsyth, K. (2002). A model of human occupation: Theory and Application (3rd. ed.). Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Mosey, A. (1986). Psychosocial components of occupational therapy. New Psychosocial components of occupational therapy.
New York: Raven Press.