Occupational Therapy is a profession in which practitioners focus on enabling people to perform the activities of daily life associated with work, self-care, and leisure. Currently, there are more than 100 000 occupational therapists in the United States, with the majority educated at the baccalaureate level. Occupational therapists at this time enter the field with a master's or a doctoral degree (Willard et al., 2009). In most states, they must pass a national certification examination before becoming eligible for licensure. Like many health professions, occupational therapy has focused its attention on regulating the qualifications of entry into the profession. With the growing interests in this health discipline, there is a strong need for focus on relating OT theory and practice. This paper addresses the application of theory to practice by addressing the relationship between: theory and clinical reasoning; and theory and intervention planning. The paper draws a historical account of occupational therapy theory and examines how effectively these theories are translated into the clinical practice and experience.
Continuing Research and Development
Professional practice continues to be informed by developments in knowledge and the findings of research in other fields. In addition occupational therapists undertake research into both practical and theoretical aspects of their work, testing hypotheses, validating practice and measuring outcomes (Willard et al., 2009). There is no argument over whether research to be done: there is, however, a difference of opinion over the most appropriate research methods. This relates back to the debate over whether it is legitimate to use reductive approaches (and, consequently a quantitative, traditional scientific approach to research) or whether to use qualitative research methods which are more compatible with the holistic nature of practice. Probably, we need both; just as selecting a therapeutic approach depends on the problem and context, so selection of research techniques depends on the nature of the question and the practical constraints in each situation (Miller & Walker, 1993).
Maintaining the Integrity of the core: a continuing challenge
Knowledge evolves, sometimes slowly and occasionally in leaps and bounds. It is seldom presented gift-wrapped in a neat package. The knowledge which underpins OT has been gained over almost a century of professional development. This slow accretion enriches but it does not always promote coherence. Occupational therapists are adaptive and acquisitive and open to new ideas (Willard et al., 2009). They are not, however, a critical as they might be about the relevance of the knowledge and skills which they draw into professional practice.. One cannot manage the core of professional knowledge in the same way as the traditional OT store-cupboard, crammed with 'come-in-handies' which may or may not be of use, and subject to occasional ruthless and indiscriminate spring-cleaning when space runs out.
Developments in OT theory
The developments in neurological basic science research in the 1950s and 1960s enabled occupational therapists to understand more clearly the cause of dysfunction in their patients with neurological and cognitive deficits. Medical science knowledge and techniques (or diagnosis and treatment of acute ...