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A community in which to question our values and our actions

July 2, 2012

 I have been thinking about the fact that is important for occupational therapists and occupational therapy students to be very self aware. We need to identify our values and look objectively at our behaviours. Are our behaviours in line with our values? That sounds pretty simple but it isn’t always so simple. We may think we know what our values are but sometimes when we look at our behaviours, we see that we unconsciously share many of the values of our dominant culture.

 North American occupational therapists may or may not be surprised to find that we highly value independence. This can be uncomfortable for those of us who work with disabled people who are very dependent on others. Do we truly value our clients when their dependence on and interdependence with others is so obvious? Is too much of our energy used to work towards an independence that our clients may never achieve? Does that leave us with not enough time or resources to instead see how we can assist our clients to contribute? Or worse, are we blind to the contributions that they already make?

 It can be scary to ask these types of questions. Sometimes, I am left wondering what I have been doing for almost 30 years. Have I been using children and families for my own satisfaction? I have experienced flow as I created a home program. But did that home program enhance a family’s life?

 It can also be confusing. OK, I see that I value independence but do I believe that a person with an intellectual disability can make independent decisions about his sexual activity? Oh, maybe I only believe in independence for some people. Yikes! This is getting a bit too challenging. I believe we need to support each other as we ask ourselves challenging questions. Maybe we can do that on this blog.

  1. Occupational therapy has been a great career for me so far. I have met some wonderful children and families. My clients have really challenged me to do the right thing. They and their families have also taught me that we are all amazingly wonderful just the way we are.

  2. smilescavenger permalink

    I want to be an occupational therapist so badly. Thank you for giving me these questions to consider. 🙂

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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