Title

Border crossing between clinical and empirical worlds: If today is Tuesday, which hat am I wearing?

Location

Room D

Start Time

18-10-2013 11:35 AM

End Time

18-10-2013 12:05 PM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

Background: Occupational therapy is famously recognized as the professional discipline that ‘does with’ participants. With this socialization, how does the transformation of a clinical occupational therapist into an occupational science researcher unfold? Or in the words of Lawlor (2001), how does the ethnographic gaze shift from clinical to empirical? As more occupational therapy students and clinicians are being encouraged to be consumers and providers of research data informing clinical practice and occupational science scholarship, returning attention to this perspective shift is of timely significance.

Purpose: In this paper I will revisit the ‘ethnographic gaze’ dilemma to further examine the occupational identity transformation from clinician to scholar. These conceptual ideas derive from personal reflections of my process of transitioning from practitioner to qualitative researcher during my doctoral studies. My research, an ongoing semi-ethnographic study using a participant-observer approach, involves the exploration of the narrative constructions of experiences of occupational therapy students who travel abroad for short term-intensive immersion opportunities as part of their professional training. The focus of this paper is the complicating nature of conducting research with one’s own community and the resulting identity tension between knowing and existing in two separate socialized worlds. In my case, it involves reconciling the engagement processes used to facilitate therapeutic relationship with clients and the hindrance such processes create in the process of collecting narrative data from research subjects. Who I am, how I listen, and to what degree participation is enacted are an ongoing challenge.

Methods: In total, 24 students from the same institution, all travelling together, consented to participate in multiple individual and collective interviews, observations, and data sharing of essays and photographs documenting their pre-departure anticipations, immersion participation, and post-trip reflections on the experiences. As part of this larger international ‘team,’ I recorded and attended to both the observations and narrations of the students’ experiences as well as my own. Preliminary thematic narrative analysis has begun to thoroughly examine the researcher’s interview and observation field notes and personal journal entries.

Results: Personal reflections derived from ‘the field’ are central to the analysis. In particular, themes pertaining to identity and positional confusion: the struggle with learning how to be present and listen in a new way; decision making regarding moments of participation versus observation; challenges and rewards of immersion research; and acknowledging the fluid boundaries between subject and object in shared experiences.

Occupational Science Contribution: There is a growing body of anthropological literature on reflexivity and the recognition that the researcher is also having an experience alongside those of the participants. This is not widely acknowledged in the occupational science literature however, as there is a generalized caution against shifting the analytic lens toward the researcher rather than the participant. My paper will address how reflexivity is more than a methodological acknowledgement; it reveals the inherent subjectivity emergent in the data analysis and dissemination processes. Reflexivity and occupational identity shift is a complicated necessity when conducting research reliant upon previous therapeutic skills and examining a process concurrently shared.

References

  1. Behar, R. (1996). The vulnerable observer: Anthropology that breaks your heart. Boston, MA: Beacon Books.
  2. Davies, J., & Spencer, D. (Eds.). (2010). Emotions in the field: The psychology and anthropology of fieldwork experience. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
  3. Finlay, L. (2002). ''Outing'' the researcher: The provenance, process, and practice of reflexivity. Qualitative Health Research, 12, 531-545.
  4. Lawlor, M. C. (2001). Gazing anew: The shift from a clinical gaze to an ethnographic lens. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 57, 29-39.
  5. Pillow, W. (2003). Confession, catharsis, or cure? Rethinking the uses of reflexivity as methodological power in qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 16(2), 175-196.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Oct 18th, 11:35 AM Oct 18th, 12:05 PM

Border crossing between clinical and empirical worlds: If today is Tuesday, which hat am I wearing?

Room D

Background: Occupational therapy is famously recognized as the professional discipline that ‘does with’ participants. With this socialization, how does the transformation of a clinical occupational therapist into an occupational science researcher unfold? Or in the words of Lawlor (2001), how does the ethnographic gaze shift from clinical to empirical? As more occupational therapy students and clinicians are being encouraged to be consumers and providers of research data informing clinical practice and occupational science scholarship, returning attention to this perspective shift is of timely significance.

Purpose: In this paper I will revisit the ‘ethnographic gaze’ dilemma to further examine the occupational identity transformation from clinician to scholar. These conceptual ideas derive from personal reflections of my process of transitioning from practitioner to qualitative researcher during my doctoral studies. My research, an ongoing semi-ethnographic study using a participant-observer approach, involves the exploration of the narrative constructions of experiences of occupational therapy students who travel abroad for short term-intensive immersion opportunities as part of their professional training. The focus of this paper is the complicating nature of conducting research with one’s own community and the resulting identity tension between knowing and existing in two separate socialized worlds. In my case, it involves reconciling the engagement processes used to facilitate therapeutic relationship with clients and the hindrance such processes create in the process of collecting narrative data from research subjects. Who I am, how I listen, and to what degree participation is enacted are an ongoing challenge.

Methods: In total, 24 students from the same institution, all travelling together, consented to participate in multiple individual and collective interviews, observations, and data sharing of essays and photographs documenting their pre-departure anticipations, immersion participation, and post-trip reflections on the experiences. As part of this larger international ‘team,’ I recorded and attended to both the observations and narrations of the students’ experiences as well as my own. Preliminary thematic narrative analysis has begun to thoroughly examine the researcher’s interview and observation field notes and personal journal entries.

Results: Personal reflections derived from ‘the field’ are central to the analysis. In particular, themes pertaining to identity and positional confusion: the struggle with learning how to be present and listen in a new way; decision making regarding moments of participation versus observation; challenges and rewards of immersion research; and acknowledging the fluid boundaries between subject and object in shared experiences.

Occupational Science Contribution: There is a growing body of anthropological literature on reflexivity and the recognition that the researcher is also having an experience alongside those of the participants. This is not widely acknowledged in the occupational science literature however, as there is a generalized caution against shifting the analytic lens toward the researcher rather than the participant. My paper will address how reflexivity is more than a methodological acknowledgement; it reveals the inherent subjectivity emergent in the data analysis and dissemination processes. Reflexivity and occupational identity shift is a complicated necessity when conducting research reliant upon previous therapeutic skills and examining a process concurrently shared.