The model of occupational empowerment explicates how living in a disempowering environment can lead to a person’s maladaptive habits and unhealthy living. A disempowering environment includes unfavorable circumstances and problems such as poverty, substance abuse, physical abuse, violence, limited social support, etc. Living in the disempowering environment may lead to problematic factors such as homelessness, joblessness, limited educational opportunities, which further lead to occupational deprivation. Unhealthy occupational identify and incompetence emerge from continued occupational deprivation. When the poor behavioral patterns are continued, it reinforces learned helplessness which promotes the problematic factors. At this point, occupational therapists can take the role in empowering clients by providing occupational therapy programs. The programs include remediation through empowering groups, power projects (a self-chosen and healthy occupation, activity, hobby, exercise routine, or educational goal which the client wishes to pursue), social support, and client involvement. This intervention aims to empower clients through occupations, and individuals would develop positive occupational identity and competence. Through promoting positive occupation, the ultimate goal is to enhance self-efficacy and healthy behaviors such as meeting educational goals, maintaining employment, establishing home, and uniting with family. To get a complete picture of the external environment that affects the client’s self-efficacy and occupational performance and satisfaction, therapists can assess occupational needs that address three key areas, environment, occupation, and empowerment. Interventions include assertiveness training, health and wellness programming, educational opportunities, home management training, vocational training and placement, beauty and self-image counseling, lifestyle redesign, group work, etc. These interventions are used selectively to enhance positive occupations like effective parents, stable jobs, etc. This model serves as a guide and provides strategies for occupational therapists to empower people by facilitating positive occupational engagement.
- Macey Cho
- Model (conceptual)
Domain of occupation
Occupational therapists empower clients by facilitating involvement in self-chosen, meaningful occupations.
Fisher, G. S., & Hotchkiss, A. (2008). A model of occupational empowerment for marginalized populations in community environments. Occupational Therapy In Health Care, 22, 55-71.
- Grace Sheldon Fisher
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