Occupational Therapy

Philosophy of the MOT Program

Philosophy of the Master of Occupational Therapy Program

The Master of Occupational Therapy Program curriculum at Cleveland State University is founded on the American Occupational Therapy Association's (AOTA’s) statements about the complexities of people as occupational beings and the dynamic and complex interplay between the person, environment, occupation, and society (AOTA 2014a; Law et al., 1996).  The faculty embrace the concept that engagement in meaningful and valued occupation promotes the development, health and wellbeing of individuals, groups, and populations (AOTA, 2011; 2014a; 2015a; Wilcock, 2006).  All individuals have a fundamental right to engage in occupations that are meaningful and valued (AOTA, 2015a). As such, participation in occupation is a vital health determinant (AOTA, 2011; Nilsson & Townsend, 2010).

Occupation is the central organizing concept threaded throughout the OT Program curriculum. Occupations are "daily life activities in which people engage" (AOTA, 2014a, p. S6). Occupations, which have a particular meaning and value and occur within specific but diverse contexts (social, physical, cultural, personal, temporal, or virtual), "are central to a client's (person's, group's, or population's) identity and sense of competence" (AOTA, 2014a, p. S5). Because interactions and relationships between the client, contexts, and characteristics of the activities are dynamic, the quality of occupational performance and experiences are unique to each person (AOTA, 2011). Knowledge about occupation and the transactional structure among the biological, psychological, social and symbolic domains is central to understanding occupational performance and participation (AOTA, 2014a).

In accordance with AOTA, the OT Program curriculum emphasizes occupation-centered practice and its importance to human health, wellbeing, and development. The focus and outcomes of occupational therapy are people’s active engagement in meaningful occupations that support participation in life situations (AOTA, 2011). Occupations are used as means and ends to promote health and wellness, to remediate or restore, to maintain health, to prevent disease and injury, and to compensate/adapt (AOTA, 2011, 2014a). Services are provided for "habilitation, rehabilitation, and promotion of health and wellness for clients with disability- and non-disability-related needs" (AOTA, 2014a, p. S1). The occupational therapy process is fluid and dynamic, culturally relevant, occupation-centered, client-centered and evidence-based (AOTA, 2014a; Law & McDermid, 2014).  “The use of occupation to promote individual, community, and population health is the core of occupational therapy practice, education, research, and advocacy” (AOTA, 2011, p. S65).

Philosophy of Education

The OT Program curriculum is designed to socialize students to be ethical and professional entry-level occupational therapy practitioners who address the occupational needs of individuals, groups, and populations within a wide variety of complex systems/settings. Students learn the purpose of occupational therapy, scope of practice, and occupational therapy process as described in the AOTA's Occupational Therapy Practice Framework (AOTA, 2014a), Scope of Practice (AOTA, 2014b), and by occupational therapy theorists. The program curriculum requires students to participate and engage in culturally relevant occupation-centered practice, research, education, creative, and service activities that are embedded throughout the curriculum. Students create opportunities for a diverse range of clients, groups and populations (by age, gender, cultural affiliation, social status, etc.) to participate in meaningful and valued occupations within specific contexts (Hooper & Wood, 2014).  Many of these activities specifically target clients or groups who are at-risk of experiencing occupational injustice. Throughout the curriculum and through innovative practice and experiential learning activities, students are required to explore, understand, apply, analyze, and evaluate evidence to support best practices and emerging practices.

Education of students enrolled in the MOT Program is grounded in the philosophy of occupational therapy education as articulated by AOTA (2015a).  Students are viewed as occupational beings throughout the educational experience. Students are transformed from learners who receive knowledge from experts to thoughtful learners who reflectively and critically acquire, integrate, and apply knowledge to what is needed for a practice situation (Hooper & Wood, 2014). Learning objectives and activities are structured using Bloom's taxonomy (as cited by Adams, 2015) to reflect the various stages of learning (remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create). Occupation-centered didactic and experiential activities require relational, reflective, affective, and psychomotor learning (Hooper et al., 2015; Schaber, 2014). The program curriculum is designed to require students to actively engage in experiences that are highly contextualized in natural settings with a wide variety of clients, groups, and populations. Students learn the occupational therapy process in "the learning through doing experience" (Schaber, p. S43). During these experiences, students learn to provide client-centered and family-centeredoccupational therapy services and to value and respect the perspectives and subjective experiences of clients and their significant others, the humanity and dignity of all people, the self-determination right of all individuals, groups, and populations, and the inherent potential and right of people to experience well-being (AOTA, 2015a).

Applying adult learning and transformative learning theories (Knowles, 1990), faculty design learning experiences that allow students to develop critical reasoning skills that require integration of theories, models of practice, evidence, skills and ethics necessary to practice as an entry-level occupational therapy practitioner within complex systems/settings and to collaborate with other professional disciplines or community partners (AOTA, 2015a; Schell, Scaffa, Gillen & Cohn, 2014). The Program prepares students to become life-long learners and to be proficient at examining and evaluating the literature for the best evidence to inform practice (AOTA, 2015a). Throughout their educational experience, students are required to adhere to and demonstrate behavior in accordance with the program's professional code of conduct, which is based upon AOTA's Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics (AOTA, 2015b).


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AOTA (2014b). Scope of practice. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64(6,Suppl.), S70-S77. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2010.64S70

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Law, M., & McDermid, J. (2014). Evidence based rehabilitation: A guide to practice (3rd ed.) Thorofare, NJ: Slack, Inc.

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Schell, B., Scaffa, M., Gillen, G., & Cohn, E. (2014). Contemporary occupational therapy practice. In B. Schell, G. Gillen, & M.E. Scaffa (Eds.), Williard & Spackman's occupational therapy (12th ed)(pp. 47-58). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkens.

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