Title

A Call to Enhance Metal Health Services Through Integration of Occupational Science Theory into Mental Health Graduate Programs

Start Time

22-10-2011 9:05 AM

End Time

22-10-2011 9:35 AM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

Objectives: To increase awareness among participants of the need to improve proficiency among mental health professionals in the realm of disability issues and to facilitate a discussion of occupational science theory’s potential to positively impact mental health practice with members of the disabilities community. People with disabilities and their loved ones seek mental health counseling for a host of reasons including a need for guidance and support in managing the complexities surrounding disability (Brislin, 2008; Leigh, Powers, Vash, & Nettles, 2004). Within psychology, a noticeable absence of graduate education training curricula pertaining to disability and an overemphasis on disability as a “problem” within counseling encounters reflects a critical knowledge gap and possible negative biases among practitioners (Olkin & Pledger, 2003; Smart & Smart, 2007).

Occupational science, built upon a foundation of interdisciplinary knowledge, situates occupation at the center of human health, well-being, and life satisfaction. Findings from occupational science research suggest that certain meaningful activities, defined as transformative occupations outshine other occupations in their capacity to inspire the creativity and organization necessary for people to solve functional problems and achieve a satisfying lifestyle (Breeden, 2008). These findings support a case for intensifying dissemination efforts to share what we know as occupational scientists across various disciplines and fields of practice. Yet, crossing the multidisciplinary divide to spread the word about occupation has proven challenging as research findings from within the discipline have largely been published in occupational science and therapy journals and have primarily targeted a readership of occupational therapists. Casting a wider net to capture the attention of scholars and practitioners within mental health disciplines (i.e., psychology, social work, and marriage and family therapy) holds the potential to transform how practitioners within these fields conceptualize and implement their approach to practice, particularly in regard to people with disabilities.

Research and theory from occupational science can positively influence counseling practices with members of the disabilities community and their families. This paper will highlight the theoretical contemplations and practice of two mental health practitioners, one an occupational scientist and one a psychologist, who actively employs an occupational perspective in their approach to psychotherapeutic practice and graduate level teaching. Its relevance to occupational science is to highlight the significant contribution occupational science theory can make to mental health practice while helping to bring together researchers, funding entities, service providers, and members of the disabilities community to prioritize the application of this relevant research.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the current relevance and understanding of the construct “occupation” and how has research and theory generated within occupational science over the past two decades been integrated into a multidisciplinary approach to disabilities?
  2. How has occupational science influenced thought within other disciplines and fields of practice? What, if any, is the relevance of the work being done within occupational science to psychology and the field of mental health practice?
  3. How are we doing as a discipline in terms pulling from and contributing to interdisciplinary knowledge? As occupational scientists, how successful have we been in working with one another and in collaboration with scholars and practitioners from other disciplines to disseminate knowledge from within occupational science? Is contributing to interdisciplinary knowledge of interest to occupational scientists in general and/or important for the ongoing evolution of the discipline?

References

Breeden, L. (2008). Transformative occupations: Life experiences of performers with disabilities in film and television. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Southern California, 2008). Dissertation Abstracts International, 3311187.

Brislin, D. (2008). Reaching for independence: Counseling implications for youth with spinabifida. Journal of Counseling & Development, 86, 34-38. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/j.1556-6678.2008.tb00623.x

Leigh, I., Powers, L., Vash, C., & Nettles, R. (2004). Survey of psychological service to clients with disabilities: The need for awareness. Rehabilitation Psychology, 49(1), 48-54. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0090-5550.49.1.48

Olkin, R., & Pledger, C. (2003). Can disability studies and psychology join hands? American Psychologist, 58, 279-284. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.58.4.296

Smart, J., & Smart, D. (2007). Models of disability: Implications for the counseling profession. In A. Dell Orto & P. Powers (Eds.), The Psychological and Social Impact of Illness and Disability (5th ed., pp.75-100). New York: Springer Publishing Company.

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Theoretical paper

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Oct 22nd, 9:05 AM Oct 22nd, 9:35 AM

A Call to Enhance Metal Health Services Through Integration of Occupational Science Theory into Mental Health Graduate Programs

Objectives: To increase awareness among participants of the need to improve proficiency among mental health professionals in the realm of disability issues and to facilitate a discussion of occupational science theory’s potential to positively impact mental health practice with members of the disabilities community. People with disabilities and their loved ones seek mental health counseling for a host of reasons including a need for guidance and support in managing the complexities surrounding disability (Brislin, 2008; Leigh, Powers, Vash, & Nettles, 2004). Within psychology, a noticeable absence of graduate education training curricula pertaining to disability and an overemphasis on disability as a “problem” within counseling encounters reflects a critical knowledge gap and possible negative biases among practitioners (Olkin & Pledger, 2003; Smart & Smart, 2007).

Occupational science, built upon a foundation of interdisciplinary knowledge, situates occupation at the center of human health, well-being, and life satisfaction. Findings from occupational science research suggest that certain meaningful activities, defined as transformative occupations outshine other occupations in their capacity to inspire the creativity and organization necessary for people to solve functional problems and achieve a satisfying lifestyle (Breeden, 2008). These findings support a case for intensifying dissemination efforts to share what we know as occupational scientists across various disciplines and fields of practice. Yet, crossing the multidisciplinary divide to spread the word about occupation has proven challenging as research findings from within the discipline have largely been published in occupational science and therapy journals and have primarily targeted a readership of occupational therapists. Casting a wider net to capture the attention of scholars and practitioners within mental health disciplines (i.e., psychology, social work, and marriage and family therapy) holds the potential to transform how practitioners within these fields conceptualize and implement their approach to practice, particularly in regard to people with disabilities.

Research and theory from occupational science can positively influence counseling practices with members of the disabilities community and their families. This paper will highlight the theoretical contemplations and practice of two mental health practitioners, one an occupational scientist and one a psychologist, who actively employs an occupational perspective in their approach to psychotherapeutic practice and graduate level teaching. Its relevance to occupational science is to highlight the significant contribution occupational science theory can make to mental health practice while helping to bring together researchers, funding entities, service providers, and members of the disabilities community to prioritize the application of this relevant research.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the current relevance and understanding of the construct “occupation” and how has research and theory generated within occupational science over the past two decades been integrated into a multidisciplinary approach to disabilities?
  2. How has occupational science influenced thought within other disciplines and fields of practice? What, if any, is the relevance of the work being done within occupational science to psychology and the field of mental health practice?
  3. How are we doing as a discipline in terms pulling from and contributing to interdisciplinary knowledge? As occupational scientists, how successful have we been in working with one another and in collaboration with scholars and practitioners from other disciplines to disseminate knowledge from within occupational science? Is contributing to interdisciplinary knowledge of interest to occupational scientists in general and/or important for the ongoing evolution of the discipline?