Preparation for an uncertain world: professional agency and durability in the practice preparation of mental health in occupational therapy.

Katherine Wimpenny, Loren Lewis


Introduction: This article presents the findings from a cross contextual pilot study, which investigated how the occupational therapy pre-registration programme prepares occupational therapy graduates for contemporary mental health practice. In particular occupational therapy graduates in their first post were asked for their perspectives about how the curriculum had equipped them to be visible, agented and influential therapists, fit for practice for contemporary mental health.
Method: Using case study methodology, 11 graduates from a South African and a UK university were interviewed and the data thematically analysed and interpreted.
Findings / Results: Four key themes are presented, namely: ‘identity and relationship to the profession’; ‘informing personal attributes and characteristics’; ‘professional knowledge and knowing’; and ‘capacity, desire and durability to be, do, and act in practice’.
Conclusion: The findings revealed that the challenge for professional education in occupational therapy mental health lies in developing graduates as agented therapists with a strong professional identity and ability to creatively implement occupation-focused practice. Moreover, graduates need to be durable therapists, equipped in promoting professional perspectives amidst complex multi-agency organisational dynamics in the changing environment of practice.

Key words: education, mental health, graduate, practice

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

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