Advancing spirituality in occupational therapy: an educational program for practitioners
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Spirituality, defined as the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose; and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature and to the significant or sacred (Puchalski,et al, 2009) has proven benefits to the health of people across the lifespan (Huguelet, 2011) and is supported by policy papers of the UN and the WHO. Spirituality, expressed through meaningful activity, naturally falls within the domain of all occupational therapy practice, and is described as a central occupational component in occupational performance models such as the AOTA PF (2009) and the CMOP-E.(Polatajko, Townsend, & Craik, 2007). However barriers to including spirituality into occupational therapy interventions include lack of training (Paal et al 2015; Kirsh, 2001), confidence and skills (Egan, 2003; Mthembu, 2015) and perception of ambiguity (Bennett et al 2013; Unruh et al 2002) and irrelevancy (Collins, 2009). Previous remediation to the gap between theory and practice of spirituality include utilising activity such as art, music, gardening, and many others (Ayers-Hayth, 2015) with the assumption that these activities have inherent spiritual qualities when they may not be meaningful to the individual. This doctoral project proposes an educational program to assist practitioners increase their knowledge and skills in relation to spirituality in occupational therapy. DevOTed is a self-paced multi-faceted workbook based on best practices in adult education ( Dunst,& Trivette, 2009) and spiritual education (Paal et al., 2015). DevOTed combines opportunities for building knowledge and skills and self-reflections and case studies from a wide range of practice areas to guide the development of the clinician’s clinical reasoning. Effectiveness will be evaluated using a participant-oriented model and include feedback, virtual discussion content and client satisfaction measures. Dissemination will utilise electronic media, person-to-person contact and written information. The devOTed program offers a theory and evidence-based learning opportunity and unique opportunity for the occupational therapy profession to seamlessly and simply integrate spirituality into day-to-day interventions in any area of practice and by doing so, continue to enact its commitment to client-centered care.