Kawa model is a model that uses the metaphor of a river with different contextual elements to represent human life. The key features of Kawa model include water, river sidewall and bottom, rocks, driftwood, and space between obstructions. Water represents a client’s life flow or life energy. River sidewall and bottom reflects a client’s physical and social contexts which are inseparable with the water flow. Rocks represent the problems or difficult situations that hinder smooth water flow and they are usually difficult to remove. Driftwood represents a client’s personal attributes and resources. Most importantly, the space between obstructions is the current life flow of the client, which occupational therapists should focus on and apply the treatment. In particular, Kawa model reflects the Eastern culture that a person is inter-related with the whole system rather than an independent self. It emphasizes on the harmony between the person and environmental factors, and believes that the harmony will enhance well-being. Occupational therapists can use Kawa model to understand the contexts of the client, help to prioritize the problems, and provide relative intervention. The information will help to widen the space for the client’s life flow without completely removing the other elements in the river and, eventually, the client will have a stronger and smoother life.
- Louise Pang
- Model (conceptual)
Domain of occupation
The model obtains information from client’s subjective report and may be more relevant to people with Eastern cultural background
Iwama, M. K., Thomson, N. A., & Macdonald, R. M. (2009). The Kawa model: The power of culturally responsive occupational therapy. Disability and Rehabilitation, 31, 1125-1135.
- Michael Iwama
Primary Developer Email