The aim of Occupational therapy is to enable people to reach their potential in daily life, work/school and leisure activities. This is achieved by working within a client centred approach, whereby you are recognised as an individual and treatment is based on what’s important to you. Your ability to engage in those activities or ‘occupations’ which are important and meaningful can heavily influence your emotional and physical well being. Meaningful occupations provide the purpose in life, so when circumstances change, and your ability to participate in those activities is limited, then finding the meaning in life can sometimes be challenging. This can be a good challenge, evoking much needed change, however it can also be a very difficult time, requiring a restructuring in the way you participate in life.
Holistic models of practice are the mainstay of Occupational therapy, ensuring you are treated as a whole person and not just as an injury or disease. Although injury and diseases are defined by common symptoms, we don’t all respond or cope with them in the same way and it’s a very personal experience. Occupational Therapy understands this and works with you to re-engage in those activities which are meaningful to you. This improves your healing potential and reduces dysfunction and pain.
In order to re-engage in meaningful activities we need to re-evaluate your needs in terms of what you can do, how you do it and what you need to achieve it. Occupational therapists are trained in analysing occupations, breaking them down into the performance components to understand the factors required to complete them. The performance components include physical, psychological, cognitive, social, and environmental factors. These components all influence each other so that a change in any one of these components requires some form of adjustment in all the components. Treatment by occupational therapists is holistic encompassing all the components. If you only treat the physical changes from an injury or disease, your only treating one component. By treating the physical changes within a framework of understanding how these physical changes impact on you as a person, improves our ability to tailor a treatment that suits you.
Both temporary or permanent, and small or large life changes can have a significant impact on your health and well being. If your not able to participate in the activities that give your life meaning then quite often we fall into patterns of low motivation, low energy, sadness and grief. This is a healthy, normal part of the process associated with adjustment to change. Giving yourself permission to feel these emotions and allowing yourself time to grieve your loss, whether it be loosing a healthy knee, loosing part of your skin in a burn, loosing control of a limb or having chronic pain, is an important part of the process which helps you to accept the change. Accepting change does not mean you have to like it, or that it won’t improve, it just means adapting your mind and your body to the change in order to once again function at your optimal level.
Occupational therapy is about understanding who you are as a person, what is meaningful to you and tapping into the components that enable you to find your spark, engage in life and teach you how you can be the person you want to be.