Occupational Therapy Month

My undergrad degree is in Occupational Therapy–I’m a University of Manitoba grad. I still practice Occupational Therapy as a Marriage and Family Therapist…as an OT, I help remove the barriers that interfere with people functioning fully in their lives. In the past, before I went back to school, that has been:

  • with people in hospitals who want to go home, and aren’t quite sure how they are going to manage.
  • or people adjusting to life in a personal care home and require a wheelchair or feeding adaptations.
  • or people recovering from a stroke and needing to work on balance and hand function.

Now it is at Bergen and Associates:

  • with people who have anxiety or depression interfering with their relationships, their ability to concentrate at work, or any number of challenges in their daily life
  • with internal or external pressures creating problems in communication between spouses
  • or folks with experiences of trauma that have triggers of those memories pop up at various times in the day, preventing them from being able to be fully present at their job, to make friends, or pursue interests that they have.

I teach in the Occupational Therapy Department in the School of Medical Rehabilitation at the University of Manitoba–it’s an honor to go back to the place where I learned much to now teach something to others. I teach Professional Master’s students how to communicate effectively with clients. It’s challenging but rewarding…they keep me on my toes, and the privilege of watching people learn new skills that improve the connections is awesome. The therapeutic alliance–the connection clinicians have with clients–is the most important predictor of positive therapeutic outcome. So, working with students to be able to communicate better, and be able to develop a more effective therapeutic relationship is something I am TOTALLY PASSIONATE about. It feels like what we talk about in class, and what they learn in the part of the curriculum I am responsible for will impact their work powerfully no matter what kind of job they end up in…because every students’ effectiveness as a therapist is so incredibly affected by how well they are able to connect with the client.

Occupational Therapy is often unfamiliar to a lot of folks who haven’t worked with an OT…and this being Occupational Therapy month, the students I teach set out to change that. They’ve been contacting Ellen DeGeneres every day this month trying to get a “shout out” for Occupational Therapy on her show. That’s one Great. Big. Audacious. Goal. But they made a video to help promote the idea.

What’s cool about this is that I know how much homework and studying they have to do. It’s crazy. They have papers, literature reviews, literature searches, presentations–assignments up the wazoo. They don’t have time for this stuff. But they made time, because they are excited about their profession and want to promote it. That’s what happens when people are passionate about what they believe in…they make time and put in the effort. They got creative, energetic, and had some fun doing some they believe in…what fun!

This is their result. There are some pretty funny moments, with some sparks of creativity.

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