Developing socially transformative practice in Occupational Therapy: insights from South African practice

Leigh-Ann Richards, Roshan Galvaan


Social and political contexts are known to influence people's’ opportunities to engage in occupations. Occupational therapy in the domain of community development practice addresses the social determinants of health through practice that contributes towards social transformation. Applying an autobiographical form of self-study, data was generated firstly through keeping a written reflective journal and audio recorded reflections on practice and secondly, written comments and feedback that the first author, as a clinical educator, gave students during their community development practice placements, was captured. This data was thematically analysed, yielding a theme and two categories. The theme, “Towards socially transformative practice” revealed the value of adopting a critical and collaborative approach to practicing occupational therapy. This was demonstrated as possible through the categories of being able to “See and feel the invisible” and enabled as “Equals working for change”. The findings suggest that critical reflexivity together with implementation of participatory practice is a necessary requirement towards addressing the conditions of people’s health and occupational well-being. 

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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