Role Emerging OT and A Community of Practice

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January 15, 2016
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March 12, 2016

Role Emerging OT and A Community of Practice

Role Emerging OT, ponderings and re-shaping OTCoach
When I started OTCoach over 10 years ago, it was initially about me supporting OTs to prevent burnout, manage stressful jobs and develop more creativity and courage in their existing roles. As time went on, I worked started to work more and more with independent OTs, OTs thinking about independent work or OTs who to develop different ways of working – what we might call “role emerging OT”. We could say that I am an example in case…an OT who coaches, who is not working in a traditional OT setting.

Those of you who read my blog regularly will get how passionate I am about “doing OT differently” and how much potential and unexplored opportunities I see for our profession. Last year I wrote a short ebook last year to help people start thinking about “How to sell OT” which was aimed at OTs in general but also looked at how we might interpret our skills differently and use them in new, diverse ways and illustrate the value of what we offered. I wrote that ebook to start expressing some of the ideas I already see OTs doing and some of the other possible ways I could really see us using our OT skills.

We might call this “Role Emerging OT” but I also hear word like “Extended Scope Practitioner” or “Consultant OT” which all allude to being an OT, but somehow doing something extra or different. But the more I use the term “Role Emerging OT” the more problematic it becomes. It could encompass a million different places and sorts of work using our OT skills, models and philosophy and could include working with individuals, groups, communities, organisations and also include shaping culture, research and social policy. Pretty much anything and with anyone.

And actually, I have no problem with that at all, not just because I believe OTs are great, but because most of the problems of the world were caused by human activity and so we need experts in human activity to solve them and create a better future…

I can’t escape though, that as a profession in the UK, we have under developed support services and advice for OTs who want to develop “role emerging” practice or a different way of working. Many practitioners I speak to are desperate for advice and support. These are some of the frequently heard comments and questions I hear:

Am I allowed to do this? (for a great piece on “fear and professionalism” click here…)
How do I know this is OT?
How do I communicate/demonstrate that its OT I am doing?
I am not doing standardized assessments/medical jargon etc. so will I be taken seriously? (even though when we examine their practice together in coaching, they are usually being more of an OT than ever before!)

I could go on and on, but as I hear more and more lovely stories about OTs working differently, the more and more I see a real desire to return to the roots of our practice. It’s all OT, just OT, but very good OT at that and I think the tertiary distinctions we keep labeling things as like “Role Emerging OT” or “Extended Scope OT” kinda help at times, but can serve to distract us, dent our confidence and stop us from working the way which suits us best as individuals.

This, along with some other synchronicities of late, has also prompted me to rethink what I want OTCoach to be about and how I see OT “practice” in the UK and beyond changing over the coming years. There’s too much to say right now about those other synchronicities, but sufficed to say, I think we need to shift and change with the times and this includes how we work together as a community of OT’s. This is new paradigm stuff. Grass roots shaping things bottom up, rather than waiting to be told what we can and can’t do…

OT Coach was always much more than just me coaching OTs and teaching OTs to coach and whilst the emphasis on coaching will still be there, I hope to develop OTCoach to support the diverse and flourishing range of practice I am already seeing and hope to see more of in the coming years.

We need a community of practice.

So in essence this post marks a new start for OTCoach. I will makes some new website changes, write some new blogs to explain more and hopefully write some new resources too, but I also need to collaborate more…it gets lonely here in the depths of South Glos on my laptop…

So this is a short newsletter, one which may well stir a few things up. Next time we will have a new contributor writing for the OTCoach blog, but it would be great to have others too so please, please let me know if you want to write something!

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