What does spirituality have to do with Occupational Therapy?

I wanted to address why this topic is so important to me and how I see the tie between occupational therapy and the church. Also, this is something I am seriously passionate about. And what else can I do but share what I love?

First, I need to share how it fits into OT and then I’ll talk some more about what this means to me.

This book is called the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process. Also known as, the OT bible (well at least that’s the way I think of it). This is the book that you learn inside and out in your first year of OT school (at least we did in my program). Because before you can really understand OT, you must understand the basics of what OT is all about, which is all in this book. This book is broken up into 9 different tables, so today I’m going to tell you about the parts of this book that talk about spirituality.

Did you know that religious and spiritual activities and expressions is an occupation? I had to check that! It is a part of table 1 in the Occupational therapy practice framework. Religious and spiritual activities and expressions is defined for us as: “participating in religion ‘an organized system of beliefs, practices, rituals and symbols designed to facilitate closeness to the sacred or transcendent’ (Moriera-Almeida &Koenig, 2006, p 844) and engaging in activities that allow a sense of connectedness to something larger than oneself or that especially meaningful, such as taking time out to play with a child engaging in activities in nature, and helping others in need” (Spenser, Davidson & White, 1997).*

Now, this is a lot to take in, I know. But values, beliefs, and spirituality are also a part of the second table in the practice framework as a part of what makes us each unique as people and as clients in occupational therapy. I know this is a lot of OT lingo, but bear with me.

The point to me is, there is a direct link between religion and OT. And I mean this as any religion you identify with, or don’t identify with. Maybe for you, religion is just spending quality time with your family, time in nature, yoga, meditation, etc. The list could go on, because the point is that each of these unique expressions of our own religion and spirituality make us who we are. And that for me, is the beauty of humanity and the beauty in the world I love to call OT.

For all my church friends, this is important for us because I, as a registered and licensed occupational therapist, have something to bring to the table on church committees, in worship meetings, and helping you and the church address accessibility needs in your church building. But it also means I have something to bring to the table to help identify ways we can better serve those who are marginalized, mistreated, or underrepresented in our world and in the church. This is the most important part to me and where my passion really shines (just ask my husband about all the passionate monologues and talking with my hands I do on this subject). Because, I believe that everyone has goals and dreams, everyone has something deep inside them that brings them connection and joy. My job as an OT, is to help light that fire within them to enjoy and engage in their own occupations, whether that be within the church or outside of the church.

So I want to end with this, whether you liked this post or not, whether or not you got anything out of this post or not. This is my way to share with the world my passion and my unique OT lense. Becuase I have a lot to offer this world, in and outside the church. Every day as an OT I feel more and more led into my calling as an OT and that I am the hands and feet of Jesus to my patients, whether or not they believe the same way as I do or not.

Because everyone deserves to be loved.

Everyone deserves to feel excited about what brings them joy in life.

Because everyone is unique and has a lot to offer this world.

I’m just here to help fill in the gaps and help others that I treat, evaluate, and care for each day, see their own potential and joy in their life, no matter where life has brought them thus far.

All my love,

Lauren

*American Occupational Therapy Association. (2014). Occupational
therapy practice framework: Domain and process (3rd ed.).
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(Suppl. 1), S1–
S48. http://dx.doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.682006

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