Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Therapeutic Use of Self

The Great Wall of China. I visited this AMAZING structure about 10 years ago while on vacation in China. If you ever have the opportunity, please go. It's breathtaking. The Chinese culture is incredible. And no, you cannot see it from space. :-)

The OT community often talks about using therapeutic use of self. We talk about it a lot in school and I understood it but now I REALLY understand it because I'm using it so much everyday. I'm not going to quote anyone for this one but tell you my own definition: using your personal, unique skill set to meet the client where they are in such a way that YOU become a valuable tool in the OT process.

A quick example before I go to bed:
At my site we have clients of all cultures. One particular group of Chines ladies comes in, does therapy and leaves, one lady serves as an off-the-cuff interpreter for the other who speaks no English. One day I commented to my clinical instructor (CI) that their Chinese accent was very interesting and I wondered if they spoke Mandarin, Cantonese, some other dialect or maybe my ear for Chinese was just off. She was curious as well so we asked at their next appointment. One question led to another and me, being my talkative self, starting asking a gazillion questions about where she was from, how long she's been here in the U.S., her job, etc.

She was excited to know that I had been to China and had a wonderful experience there. Suddenly, she wanted to share EVERYTHING with me, all kinds of stories. I asked her to teach me some basic Chinese and she was so HAPPY. She shared with me that there are three words I absolutely must learn to get by: Hello, Good-bye and Thank you. I kept practicing the words over and over and she taught me more words and kept corrected me, haha. The more we talked, the more engaged she became. Now, I know I'm still new and all but up to this point I'd seen this lady a few times and I didn't know she could talk this much! And it was so interesting!

Later that day I asked my CI for feedback and she told me that I have great rapport with the clients. I'm really good and starting and continuing conversation, making the clients feel welcome and engaging them in therapy and the intervention process. The previous week another OT clinician had told me the same thing. They both commented that I should never lose that quality.

Naturally, those encouraging words made me feel really, really good. It also hit home how just being yourself and using your natural strengths (in my case, the gift of gab and of genuinely being interested in people's cultures, family life and life experiences) can encourage the client and make therapy enjoyable.

And in case you were wondering, here's the Chinese I learned. I can't guarantee it's correct, HAHA! Either my pronunciation is off, or hers...probably the former more than the latter. :-) (smile)
Hello - Ne-how-ma
Goodbye - Chai Chen (the first sound is more like a 'j' sound)
Thank you - She-e She-e

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