The notion of “Context” and “real environments” – Who’s line is it anyway?

May 13, 2007

After attending the ASSBI conference this month there was a particular theme that stood out to me as an Occupational Therapist……

  • I first noticed the small presence of Occupational Therapists at this conference, not only within the Keynote speakers (speakers consisted of Psychologists (x2), Speech and Language Therapist and Physiotherapist) but also those in attendance (I am uncertain of exact numbers but it would be interesting to find this out – even if there was a larger number than I think they definately kept their heads down!). I must admit when in came to discussions of current and recent research there were a few OT’s presenting and actively engaged in promoting Occupational Therapy.
  • Secondly….. was an underlying theme from presenters regarding the need for assessing and providing treatment within “context”and “real environments”……I sat back thinking…… this is NOT a new concept, we as occupational therapists have been doing this for years!!!! Granted some peoples perceptions of “context” are quite different to what I would consider however I couldn’t help note that other professions may have started to realise Occupational Therapists are onto a good thing and are starting to encroach on a notion that has typically stood us out from the rest of the allied health professions.

I have certainly noticed a change in other professions working closely alongside me in the rehabilitation ward setting……others are now becoming more interested in observing and treating patients within familiar and natural environments i.e in the home, community, workplace etc.

  • I guess this makes me think about the evolution of our profession….what is this shift going to mean to us in the future?? Will it stop here or continue to cross the boundary into what has typically been OT roles

The main point I guess I am trying to make is the importance of PROMOTION and EDUCATION……how can we be taken seriously and our profession more widely understood and valued without putting ourselves out there and promoting our role and the uniqueness of Occupational Therapy as a profession – not only to other health professionals but the wider public. …..We can’t complain if we’re not prepared to do anything about it!

I am hoping this has got you thinking – whether in support or against I would love to hear your feedback!



  1. I agree – occupational therapy has a lot to offer and a lot of strong rational and sense for why we do what we do.
    It is sad to see that so often we don’t ‘sell” to others what we do. But even when I look at Occupational therapy blog sites I don’t think we are often enough talking about what we do, what we could offer. Perhaps we should tailor our blogs a little more.

  2. I completely agree. I think using blogs for sharing information and knowledge about aspects of our clinical practice is certainly something I would find really useful and am sure others would to i.e a new assessment tool, a specific remediation method, intervention and treatment ideas. There is definitely scope for this type of blog and certainly something I am trying to achieve (bearing in mind the need for extreme confidentiality with work relate issues!)

  3. I know this is not a great comment to make – but I love the title of your posting – bound to grab the attention – now how did you categorise it – would something like OT debates work??? OT Controversies? Oh and OT in full of course!

  4. I am really enjoying reading your blog! It is certainly thought-provoking. I’ve been seeing a lot of discussion of web 2.0 from you and a few other of these new OT blogs. I’ve never even heard of it so I am confused by it – I just use trusty old blogger.com for mine!

  5. Hey Karen – nice to see you posting – one way of developing our understandings is to expand on our comments. For example – what thoughts were provoked for you by the posting? Don’t worry about whether these are right or wrong – it’s not like being in class – rather we all bring different views to the same issue – so if there is a thought posted by this OT…what do you agree with? What questions does this raise for you?

    As for Web 2.0 and what it is – blogging tools are one example of Web 2.0 tools. So is social bookmarking – (see http://del.icio.us/merrolee) as is YouTube, or MySpace – which connect people with similar interests. There are stacks more of these types of tools – we are exploring just a few of them!

    But let me buzz across to your blog and add these in.

  6. Thanks for your comments Karen. Glad to see it is of interest to you and thanks for checking in on my blog. What are your thoughts or feelings on some of my comments?

    Thanks also Merrolee…..I completely agree with your comments regarding encouraging others to express views and opinions regarding subject matters posted. This is an area I am really passionate about and am keen to engage in further discussions on many of these points! – there is nothing like a bit of healthy debate!

  7. Well you know me well enough by now to know I agree wholeheartedly, especially with Merrolee’s point about using OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY!!(couldn’t resist πŸ™‚

    Do you think what you came across at conference is just one of the many things though that we as occupational therapists have let drift into other’s consciousness by our lack of promotion and “owner ship”? I think the “it’s good to have goals, and they need to achievable” one is a goodie, as well as “it has to be purposeful”. And don’t forget “functional”!!! But does it have to be about ownership, or could we welcome others who are catching up, and just work harder on promoting ourselves by doing, and talking about what we’re doing? Who’s let us down here…..????

  8. Yay Jane!!!!!! I think for me I see the biggest issue as being that of lack of promotion! I’m not sure about the ownership idea – as often we’ve borrowed from others…but I do like the idea of welcoming those who are catching up but continuing to lead the way, talk about what we are doing, find ways of reporting on effectiveness etc – then people will start to talk about ‘borrowing’ from OT, rather than others saying- “hey – look what we’ve found all by ourselves….!!!” And us sitting there going – but we’ve always known this – its not new!
    And…. I really really like the question – ‘Who’s let us down here??????’ Its absolutely us – we are so good at faciliating others to achieve their goals, but we don’t seem to have been able to apply this skill to our own profession – why might this be????

  9. I really thought I left a long message on this blog comment area in response to your question about fleshing out specifically what was thought-provoking. Apparently it didn’t go through? Have I gone insane? Only time will tell. πŸ˜‰


  10. I had a similar experience lately when listening to a lecture on the ICF and how we are so fortunate to have this classification system as it now means that health professionals will look at the patients environment. It was as if there was a belief that prior to the ICF no one would adress the environmemt- and definately no mention of OTS specialising in this.Credit where credits due I say!!!!

  11. Thanks Cathy
    I no exactly what you mean about the ICF. I have come across those exact comments in relation to the ICF and have had the same thoughts. Sometimes I feel like screaming….What about Occupational Therapy?…. am glad its not just me! but it does make you wonder….judging by the comments on this post this is not an uncommon though! – so what are we or can we do about it? πŸ™‚

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