It has taken me quite some time to add a reflection about the the College of Occupational Therapists (COT) Student Conference 2009 at Sheffield Hallam on April 25th, which I attended to deliver a presentation with a close colleague of mine (please see COT Student Conference 2009 page on this blog). I attended the lectures given by various practitioners, educators and researchers at the conference too.
I have not had a lot of free time recently, but I have some spare moments now for engaging in a valued creative occupation of mine, which is reflective writing.
A significant experience that day was the volume of professional networking that I was able to do with the various practitioners, students, researchers and educators who participated in the conference.
A marker event was my conversation with a colleague from COT. My colleague made an interesting point about occupational science and how she feels that individuals in both the occupational therapy and occupational science communities should consider carefully whether to retain occupational science as a discipline that exclusively informs occupational therapy practice or allow occupational science to become a ‘stand-alone’ science. There is evidence of debate about this topic in the occupational science literature (Lunt 1997; Mounter and Llott 1997).
I feel that occupational science should remain exclusive to occupational therapy because it informs occupational therapy practice and then has a similar status in academia to nursing science or social policy. My opinion is that occupational science is discipline that informs occupational therapy practice – providing a greater evidence base for occupational therapy.
A further marker event was discussing the psychological theory of flow (Csikszentmihalyi 2002) with Dr Frances Reynolds, a reader at Brunel University, London who has made many contributions to the evidence base of occupational therapy and occupational science on the subject of engagement and participation in creative occupations by individuals with disabilities and long-term/chronic conditions (Reynolds 2004; Reynolds and Prior 2006; Reynolds 1997).
I enjoyed hearing her thoughts on flow and she commented that the theory of flow is quite an obscure theory, because there have been researchers who have tried to quantifiably measure flow, and they have failed to devise a workable measure thus providing tangible evidence of this psychological state. Dr Frances Reynolds further commented that she has observed and documented flow states in one of her research studies (Reynolds and Prior 2006).
I think the learning I have gained from the conference has encouraged me to pursue a research career at some point. My action plan is to undertake an occupational science based PhD at some point in the near future focussing on a topic related to occupation, health and well-being incorporating an exploration of flow states.
I would like to hear comments from other individuals in the occupational therapy and occupational science community on the future path occupational science should take – should it remain exclusive to occupational therapy or become a ‘stand-alone’ science?
Thank you for reading this blog post and I duly invite you to make some comments on my reflections. I look forwarding to reading them.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2002) Flow: The classic work on how to achieve happiness. London: Rider.
Lunt, A. (1997) Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy: Negotiating the Boundary between a Discipline and a Profession. Journal of Occupational Science: Australia, 4(2), pp.56-61.
Mounter, C. and Llott, I. (1997) Occupational Science: a Journey of Discovery in the United Kingdom. Journal of Occupational Science: Australia, 4(2), pp.50-55.
Reynolds, F. and Prior, S. (2006) Creative Adventures and Flow in Art-Making: a Qualitative Study of Women Living with Cancer. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(6), pp.255-262.
Reynolds, F. (2004) Textile Art Promoting Well-being in Long-term Illness: Some General and Specific Influences. Journal of Occupational Science, 11(2), pp.58-67.
Reynolds, F. (1997) Coping with Chronic Illness and Disability through Creative Needlecraft. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 60(8), pp.352-356.