A “Perfect” Time to Define Occupation…

A “Perfect” Time to Define Occupation…

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I spent the majority of my waking hours of 2019 and early 2020 studying the theories and definitions of occupation and occupational therapy in my masters degree program. It amazed me that I had been a therapist for nearly 20 years and the majority of my learning surrounded the fact that most practitioners still struggle to define what occupational therapy is. This fact of course lead to numerous academic discussions about how, as a profession, we can remain relevant and valued, when we ourselves can stumble over our own words and understanding of what we do.

Then in March of 2020 the COVID 19 pandemic hit the United States and rocked not only my world at home but the entire world in a matter of a few months. It is this common life experience that feels like it is breaking every one of us in some way and it occurred to be that it may just be breaking the world open for a deeper understanding of what occupational therapy is.

I picture in 2020 we (the world population) all simultaneously, like a bird in flight, hit a COVID -19 window. All of us to some degree have been injured, had to redefine what routines and activities bring us meaning, our occupations. It is these routines and roles that kept us in flight day to day and allowed us to maintain our health and well being. Now with restrictions, losses and changes we are grieving people, attempting to dust ourselves off, and a little (or very) bewildered. Ultimately we have been collectively forced into redefining or struggling to redefine what gives us meaning, what we do and who we are.

That, my friends, is occupation! Its importance is screaming in the lives of most people on the planet. These meaningful life activities and roles, defined by each individual person. Leanne and I have decided there is no better time than now to explain “occupations” to the world! Almost everyone is experiencing the full impact the loss of an activity or role can have on overall wellness and health. So the world needs occupational therapy? Yes is the short answer. Who wouldn’t benefit from someone to help rebuild us in this time? However…. the bigger message is…NOW is the perfect opportunity to help others to more fully understand what is that we do and why we are relevant and a necessary profession in the world. Now is also the time we have chosen to launch this blog and invite you to a very special place – a table. Virtual yes, but nonetheless, inspiring and renewing to the spirits of those who practice and those who have ever had an interest in learning more….

My understanding of occupation and occupational therapy has been enlightened not only through education but also in the numerous discussions around the kitchen table with my stepmom, Leanne who has been an OT for over 35 years. These discussions occurred around a table, with food or coffee, and were almost never planned. Our dialogues were always connected in part to professional literature, training, or a new strategy or activity we tried. Just by posing questions to one another, we have been able to learn and cultivate new ideas and the meaning of “occupation” in our own practices. We have had a safe space to gather, share our professional joys, struggles, bewilderment and reflect and grow together. Without this opportunity, we are convinced our love for the profession would not have evolved in the same way it has. We certainly feel that our practice would be entirely different, less creative, and less fulfilling. We know that each time we walked away from the table, we had an idea, or felt inspired to problem solve and find solutions when we had felt “stuck”. We also know at times we just needed to know we were not the only therapist who had questions or obstacles, or felt like this, or be reassured we were on the right track.

So as you sit down to this table with us, we welcome you. Pull up a chair and grab that cup of whatever fuels your engine and meet us in the next post. We’ve only just begun to define occupational therapy in a way the rest of the world can understand. We are so happy you are here to begin this endeavor…

Warm Regards,

Jennica & Leanne

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