Recently I read an article by Moses Ikiugu and Stacey Smallfield (2015) Instructing occupational therapy students in use of theory to guide practice, Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 29(2): 165-177, DOI: 10.3109/07380577.2015.1017787
Ikiugu and Smallfield make a case for the importance of explicitly instructing occupational therapy students about how to understand and use theory to guide their future practice. They argued that one of the benefits of having theory-savvy graduates is that “theoretical conceptual practice models form our identity as a profession, and ignoring their development and use can be as detrimental to the profession as lack of evidence to support what we do” (p. 175).
I agree with Ikiugu and Smallfield about the importance of educating the next generation of occupational therapists in their use of theory … and I think we ought to also assist more experienced therapists to develop their knowledge, skills, confidence, and articulation of their use of theory in their practice.
Ikiugu and Smallfield asserted that occupational therapy practitioners tended “to resist … explaining how they use theory as a guide to clinical decision-making” (p. 173). I have also found, in my experience as an educator and researcher, that some occupational therapists appear to be hesitant and lack confidence in discussing theory.
So, my proposal is … that occupational therapists ought to engage in continuing professional development that specifically focuses on developing in-depth knowledge of theory and competence in applying theory in practice. How do we do this? I have found that occupational therapists learn well by engaging in case-based discussions with other therapists.
… let the discussions begin!