Category Archives: Therapeutic Use of Self

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.