YESb) There is no such thing as an “occupational therapist” rather there are people who hold personal, professional and political values and use occupational therapies as tools with the people they engage withThis point really interconnects with your previous reflection and is based on one of OT’s beliefs or assumptions ‘every human being is unique’. We invite people to engage in ‘3PArchaeology’ (3PA), an in-depth critical exploration of who they are, where they come from, what matters most to them and what they really stand up for in everyday life. Surely, it is possible to identify common OT characteristics, but that doesn’t make all OT’s the same. Essentially, one’s value add to society isn’t only influenced by one’s culture, often times it also has to be politically negotiated. c) Occupational therapies are tools that enable the phenomena of well being in both giver and receiver.Personally, I’d prefer to speak of ‘occupations’ (in the broadest sense) as ‘vehicles’ for bringing about meaningful changes. These changes may be therapeutic, but could also have other focuses, learning, development, conflict resolution, etc. Hence, in our new book, we propose OT to essentially constitute a (political) possibilities-based practice, which generates practice-based evidence, to complement evidence-based practices (‘Occupational Therapies without Borders: Towards an Ecology of Occupation-Based Practices’). d) I use occupational therapies to facilitate health and wellbeing using occupation.I am always a person first, and OT is merely one of the instruments that I use to play my life’s music. e) The profession is a compromised version of the ideal. Having a profession is preventing us from being contextually driven – the lived experience is what should be driving us – not the profession The ‘gold’ is to be found in the nuance…these reflections here are linked with raising our ‘occupational consciousness’, which Ramugondo (2009) operationally defined as: “An ongoing awareness of the dynamics of hegemony, an appreciation of the role of personal and collective occupations of daily life in perpetuating hegemonic practices, and an appraisal of resultant consequences for individual and collective well-being.” f) Insight is required into self in order to judge whether something is going well for you and for the other person. You should be able to use the 3PArchaeology to look at deeper levels of personal, professional and political and ask yourself…a. How do I connect with the idea of OT?Yes, discerning between the profession of OT and the idea(s) that gave birth to OT. As the late great violinist Isaac Stern once said in response to the question what is music all about: “The instrument is not that important, it is only a means to an end. In other words, you don’t use music to play the violin, you use the violin to play music.” ...the profession of OT is the instrument, the idea of OT its music…do you see where I’m hinting at? b. What would I be willing to give up for this?Here we’re entering the most often narrowly and negatively interpreted realm of ‘politics’ and ‘the political’…but I’d argue that we really can’t afford not being politically conscious and engaged…once we’ve excavated and (re)connect with our personal and professional values, our capacity and power to exercise these in our daily lives and practices relates to the 3rd ‘P’ of 3PA…it’s not firstly about what can you gain from your involvements, but what are you willing to give up for being true to who you are and what you value, personally and professionall c. What am I occupassional about?In other words, what gets you up in the morning, what keeps you up at night, in terms of what really gives you enthusiasm for life and living, what must you do regardless of whether the world around you says no, you can’t do that’ (?)…but because you’re burning for it you’ll try to do it anyway (!?) We’re talking about internal authentic DRIVE/POWER (of an individual and/or collective) as a resource that can be tapped into more consciously… this question is asked under the first ‘P’ of PERSONAL of the three ‘Ps’…and the second ‘P’ refers to the PROFESSIONAL dimension…exploring the value-add of – in our case – occupational therapy to the society in which we find ourselves…
These discussions have provided much food for thought - and I'm not sure that I have truly managed to answer all the questions or managed to excavate enough so far - but I'm sure these will be ongoing discussions within the team for some time to come.
Unfortunately I had to leave before the seminar had ended so I will rely on my colleagues to offer feedback on the rest of the session but on a final note I would like to share one more quote from the seminar
"Each of you is bigger and more beautiful than your professional identity".
We would love to hear from anyone who attended the session to share any impact on your professional development. Also, any who were not able to attend but have something to share about the issues raised please feel free to comment and share.