Individual meaning and its role in occupational therapy

Eschenfelder, Verna G.
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The purpose of this line of research is to begin a process of query through three related studies in the area of individual meaning and its role in occupational therapy practice. These studies have been designed so that they allow the author to focus on this topic from the perspective of a variety of participant populations. The first naturalistic study explores the meaning-making process of individual, community based women from different age groups in an attempt to identifY how the individual creates and interprets meaning through their daily life experience over time. Results led to the development of the Client Centered Evaluation. The second study involved secondary analysis of a previous study that included participants who were patients at a skilled nursing unit and were receiving OT services. The CCE was used as a tool to assess and help the client set personally meaningful goals by collaborating with the OT. The concept of Meaning Based Intervention was developed based on the process and substance of data gained from these study participants.

The third study in this line of research focused on the therapist's perspective with regard to the role of individual meaning-making, and the inclusion of meaning-based treatment approaches with occupational therapy clients. The findings from this study led to examination of factors that facilitate and barriers to inclusion of Meaning Based Intervention in occupational therapy. Occupational Therapists can use this line of research to help them gain insight into clients personally meaningful life experiences and incorporate this into the goal setting process. Therapists must use their clinical judgment to help clients develop to help clients identify the meaningful nature of past occupations and how these occupations may have changed over time as a result of illness or injury which brings them to the OT treatment setting. OTs can play a unique role in helping clients make connections between meaningful roles, relationships, responsibilities and goals directed at engagement in desired meaningful occupation.

Occupational therapy, Individual meaning, Client centered evaluation, Meaning based intervention