Describing what we do.
Article Type: Letter to the editor
Author: Millar, Katherine
Pub Date: 03/01/2010
Publication: Name: British Journal of Occupational Therapy Publisher: College of Occupational Therapists Ltd. Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 College of Occupational Therapists Ltd. ISSN: 0308-0226
Issue: Date: March, 2010 Source Volume: 73 Source Issue: 3
Accession Number: 221919019
Full Text: Madam,

I am writing in response to the editorial by Hilary Williams and Gabrielle Richards ('How would you describe to a carer what you do as an occupational therapist?', BJOT January 2010) because I am concerned about their suggestions for describing what we do. Telling a carer that I am a 'performance improver' (Pattison 2006) or an 'architect of life' (Clark 2009) would not help him or her to understand my role. Any profession as complex as occupational therapy cannot be described in two or three words.

I have often debated with occupational therapy students how to explain occupational therapy to our clients and their relatives and feel that it has to be tailored to the person, as his or her understanding of occupational therapy will depend partly on prior experience and on his or her attitude towards being referred. A 'one size fits all' approach does not work and I ask the person if he or she has been seen by an occupational therapist before, as that gives a starting point. Over the years, I have found that it is better to describe my role over time, rather than give a lengthy explanation at the beginning. Something similar to Creek (2009) is useful, saying that we look at everything you have to do in your daily life.

But no matter how you explain our role, I think we need to stay grounded in reality.

Katherine Millar, Senior Occupational Therapist, Health and Adult Social Care, East 2 Team, Southampton City Council, Southampton.

Clark F (2009) Lifestyle redesign and occupation. Keynote address. College of Occupational Therapists' 33rd Annual Conference, Brighton. Reported in: Occupational Therapy News, 17(8), 14.

Creek J (2009) Something lost and something gained. Mental Health Occupational Therapy, 14(2), 45-51.

Pattison M (2006) OT--Outstanding talent: an entrepreneurial approach to practice. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 53(3), 166-72.
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