Occupational Therapy holds at its heart, the importance of meaningful activities and their role in health/happiness. For over 100 years OT have used activities or meaningful occupations in a way unique to our profession. Now with the advent of functional MRI scans, modern psychologies and a greater understanding of rehabilitation, we really have a language and evidence base to support what we have known for hundreds of years….namely humans are occupational in nature and that purposeful activity can reduce pain, anxiety, bring happiness and improve quality of life.
So what has this to do with coaching?
Well through our experience of coaching OT’s and many other people, we consistently find that people often bring a need to reconnect with their creativity or find meaning in their life. I have lost track of how many clients decide to take up writing, re-engage with batik or drawing or decide to start dancing again. It feels like the world is really coming back from the brink of scientific reductionism and entering a new paradigm.
Every day I see adverts for Knitting circles, Grow your own food clubs, Art clubs etc. This shift has also come from the sustainability movement which recognises the need to reclaim the “old skills” of making, mending and growing! Well those are the exact activities which OT has been using and working with for many, many years.
Many times since becoming an OT I have seen scorn poured on any one who dares mention “craft” or creative activities and I don’t advocate for a return to basket making or stool seating for all, but what I do see is many projects and services now springing out of the new understanding we have about activity.
In Devon, the Upstream Project gained massive funding to promote social inclusion and participation with older people using activities. No OT’s were involved.
In Bristol we have a lovely team called the LightBox Project who are psychologists using creative activities to promote positive psychology. They incorporate principles of “flow”, “gratitude” and “savouring” into book binding and other crafts.
The psychologist Mike Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced “Chick sent me high”) has written extensively in recent years about the principle of “flow” activities and how they promote wellbeing and engagement. Many OT’s are also realising the benefits of mindfulness and implementing mindfulness groups into their services.
At OTCoach, we believe that OTs can reclaim their place on the wellbeing agenda by :
1) Remembering their core skills and the philosophy of the professions, putting “occupation” back into OT, with a new language and evidence base
2) Pursue new opportunities in the private and public sector based on this knowledge and experience
3) Regain their own creativity
4) Develop new services based around sustainability and human being’s ability to re-craft and adapt to their changing world