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Occupational Therapy, Essay Example

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Educator Mary Reilly (1966) uses “A Psychiatric Occupational Therapy Program as a Teaching Model,” to discuss the feasibility of making psychiatric occupational therapy part of a standard university curriculum.  Proponents of this change have met a great deal of resistance from both relevant literature and clinical practitioners in the field and face arguments that hospitals would incur extra expense by professionalizing psychiatric occupational therapy. Additionally, those that Reilly terms “anti-educational” (1966, p. 61) believe that psychiatric occupational therapy is best learned in the field rather than the classroom.  Using an experimental program conducted at UCLA as a teaching model, Reilly argues that the creation of dedicated teaching programs for psychiatric occupational therapists will lead to an overall improvement in patient care and health while decreasing average hospital stays by emphasizing the relationships that are formed between occupational therapist and psychiatric patient.  This model suggests that psychiatric occupational therapists would benefit from increased educational opportunities in the behavioral sciences and clinical techniques.  However, Reilly concludes by identifying the lack of administrative support for psychiatric occupational therapists, both in hospitals and universities, as a primary roadblock to the these clinicians success in the field.

In “The Occupational Process” (1969), Dr. Mary Reilly provides an overview of the successes and outcomes in Masters level occupational therapy programs which seek to disrupt outdated conceptions of the role played by occupational therapists in clinical practice.  In redefining and restructuring these programs, Reilly emphasizes the importance of defining and understanding the different, yet supportive, roles played by medicine and occupational therapy.  Many of the problems inherent in the acceptance of occupational therapy as a viable form of treatment are rooted in patient rights and a reluctance from the medical establishment to merge psychology and medicine in developing occupational therapy treatment programs. Reilly believes that the development of curriculum for masters programs in occupational therapy is a constantly evolving process.  As such, curriculum will need to be further adapted to reflect the role of administration in allowing the occupational therapist  to successfully utilize their skills at consultation and treatment.

Dr. Mary Reilly’s 1961 lecture “Occupational Therapy Can Be One of the Great Ideas of 20th-Century Medicine” addresses the underlying anxiety felt by many occupational therapists when considering the manner in which society values their work.  This is due, in part, to the traditional hierarchy within the medical establishment which has relegated occupational therapists to a lesser tier that devalues their important contributions to patient health.  Reilly posits that one of the underlying foundations of occupational therapy is the recognition that human beings can gain control over improving their health, and that occupational therapists assist in this endeavour  through their professional commitment to education and health.  Reilly argues for the continued professionalization of the field, stating that such a shift can only occur once occupational therapists are able to identify the unique needs and services that they provide to society.  A general acceptance of occupational therapists as equal and important members of the medical establishment can only occur once occupational therapists themselves are able to assert the vital role that they play in helping individuals achieve physical and emotional satisfaction through rehabilitation.

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