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The Successes and Challenges of Program Development

1 January 2013


Recognizing the benefits and values of interdisciplinary health care, Pacific University School of Occupational Therapy initiated collaboration with the School of Professional Psychology in 2012 to embrace interdisciplinary education. Two occupational therapy (OT) graduate students Ingrid Borland and Ariel Schiller, under the supervision of Assistant Professor Sean Roush, OTD, OTR/L, had successfully completed a needs analysis and conducted a pilot stress management group in the Pacific Psychology Clinic in Hillsboro. Their analysis revealed limited mental health groups led by healthcare professionals in the local community. Furthermore, there was a lack of groups co-led by OT and psychology (PSY) in the community and lack of or limited OT and PSY collaboration in the U.S. educational system (Borland & Schiller, 2012). Such findings justified their efforts to pilot an OT-led stress management group in the Pacific Psychology Clinic. Although their groups were well received, time constraints led to a low enrollment rate. Moreover, the groups were solely led by OT due to the limited availability of the PSY student therapists.

In 2013 two OT graduate students Elizabeth Bair and Man Wa Eva Shing, again acting under the supervision of Professor Roush and in collaboration with Psychology Services Director Lisa Christiansen, Psy.D., continued the partnership between OT and PSY.

The Pacific Psychology Clinic is one of several affordable mental health services in the local Washington County area. The Borland and Schiller (2012) needs analysis of the Pacific Psychology Clinic revealed several themes: 1) clients of the Pacific Psychology Clinic often have both mental and physical health conditions, 2) PSY student therapists have limited or lack of experience with OT, 3) PSY student therapists identified physical health issues, which are outside their scope of practice, as a barrier to their treatments, and 4) PSY student therapists listed a variety of health and safety management concerns that are within OT’s scope of practice.

Bair and Shing aim to develop a more encompassing group to attract more participants and to invite PSY student therapists to co-lead the groups to increase involvement of PSY as well as initiate the interdisciplinary education approach. Upon reviewing Borland and Schiller’s need analysis of Pacific Psychology Clinic and the local community, the creation and collection of comprehensive health education materials and program planning for people with multiple health concerns was proposed to and approved by Professor Roush and Director Christiansen. Due to contractual obligations, implementation of an interdisciplinary pilot group was not carried out. The focus of this project shifted to creating a program development guide for healthcare professionals.


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