Trinity Washington University’s Occupational Therapy Assistant Program strives to educate students to be competent, ethical, and committed occupational therapy practitioners who promote health and well-being of all people as they engage in everyday activities called occupations. Through dynamic classroom, clinical and community experiences, OTA students graduate prepared to meet the ever-changing occupational needs of society and address social justice and occupational justice issues locally and globally.
Within Trinity’s founding traditions, we envision the occupational therapy assistant program as a center where the occupational therapy assistant and the occupational therapist can study the process of adaptation and its effect on occupational performance as it relates to the person’s search for meaning and fulfillment as occupational-beings.
The OTA program’s philosophy reflects occupational therapy fundamental ideals in that it is based on the profession’s belief that humans are complex beings who are continuously engaged in their environment. Learning is an active and social process where learners learn to discover principles, concepts and facts through interactions with each other and with the environment they live in.Occupational Therapy Program PhilosophyThe Philosophical Base of Occupational Therapy (AOTA, 1979, 1955) provides the foundation for our philosophy of humans and how they learn.The organizing philosophical framework of the OTA curriculum is derived from the belief that engagement in occupations can influence the health and well-being of individuals and populations. Through engagement or doing, we survive: we find meaning and find balance in our lives. Successful engagement in occupations requires constant mastery of occupations and the ability to adapt (Schultz 2009). This interaction between the person, the environment and the occupation influences health and well-being. Adolph Meyer’s philosophy of occupational therapy summarizes the Trinity OTA perspective of occupation as it relates to health and well-being:
“Our conception of man is that of an organism that maintains and balances itself in the world of reality and actuality by being in active life and active use, i.e. using and living and acting its time in harmony with its own nature and the nature about it. It is the use that we make of ourselves that gives the ultimate stamp to every organ.” (Meyer 1922)
The OTA Program philosophy is guided by two major areas. These areas are occupation and the process of occupational adaptation and the professional curriculum and learning-teaching style.
- Our Fundamental Beliefs about Human Beings
Humans are complex beings that are constantly interacting with the physical, social, temporal, cultural, psychological, spiritual and virtual environment through their actions. We are active beings who have the ability to adapt, modify and affect the quality of our life by engaging in the things we want and need to do called occupations. These occupations are the actions that support survival, provide self-actualization, and help us find occupational balance (AOTA, 2007). However, when a person is faced with an occupational challenge because of impairment, disability or a stressful event, the innate process of human adaptation may become impaired (Schultz, 1992 and Schultz & Schkade, 1992). Through occupational therapy intervention, the occupational therapy practitioner’s “therapeutic use of self”, management of the environment and use of “occupations as tools” promote the client’s ability to adapt to life’s challenges for successful occupational performance.
- Our View of Learning
Learning is an active and social process in which learners learn to discover principles, concepts and facts through interactions with each other and with the environment in which they live (Brown 1989; Ackerman 1996). Trinity acknowledges learners are unique individuals with unique needs and diverse backgrounds while being complex and multidimensional. Using a constructivist viewpoint to guide the learning process, we see that the responsibility for learning resides with the learner; motivation for learning strongly depends on the learner’s confidence in his or her potential to learn (Prawat and Floden 1994); and instructors are facilitators that create guidelines and set the stage within the environment for learning. The learning experience is shaped by the instructor’s as well as by the learners’ values; culture and background are shared and respected (Ernest 1991; Prawat et al. 1994). The faculty of Trinity Washington University’s OTA program demonstrate support for students to become effective and critical thinkers through the “beyond the comfort zone” academic challenge (Vygotsky 1978) that will also translate into critical thinking and reasoning skills in the OT practice setting through use of activities as interventions.