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Aspects of Occupational Therapy

Pursuing higher education at the age of 48 – an insurmountable challenge or a novel chapter of life? As an already experienced practicing licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), and a practicing psychotherapist working with Veterans for the last 10 years, I firmly believe that continuous improvement is a crucial part of my career. Seeing how my input helps people overcome their fears and anxieties fulfills me as a person. Though I have professionally surpassed in this area, particularly in working with mental illnesses, I aspire to shift my focus and function in a different capacity.

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Occupational therapy (OT) is closely related to my current experience that I have been actively practicing since 2009. A particular article states OT in various ways helps individuals manage and recover from mental disturbances, reassuring them in a professional acceptance of purpose, which subsequently develops into a sense of pride and value, becoming a contributing member of society (Strong, 1998). Therefore, occupational therapy would become a powerful tool for broadening knowledge in my particular interest in helping mentally unstable people.

During my involvement working beside Service Members undergoing mTBI symptoms, I witnessed how essential OT is. One example of a successful combination of OT and psychotherapy in my practice was poor sleeping hygiene among soldiers. A recent study completed in 2019 confirmed that insufficient rest affects Service Members’ recovery process suffering from mTBI (Cogan et al.). Alongside the application of two methods, I was able to significantly enhance the soldier’s sleeping patterns.

A 25-year background of working in the social work field, and working with soldiers for the last 3 years in the army, including the Kuwait and Iraq Army as the Behavioral Health Officer in Charge (BHOIC) has given me the ultimate psychotherapy experience. Overseeing thousands of struggling soldiers, who I had the chance to help, inspired me every day, which subsequently became a catalyst for continuing my education. My qualification contains working along with soldiers who encountered Combat Operational Stress reactions, neurological and physical deficits, trauma, and sexual harassment. My role as a therapist allowed me to work closely with OT and provide sufficient treatment for recovery and further resilience.

Occupational therapy is also concerned with the adaptability of Veterans. Such ability is vital when serving in the military but can be impacted when Service Members are discharged from duty. Militaries’ struggle to re-acclimate to life outside of the army affects their psychosocial level of functioning. When comparing Post 9/11 Veterans with service-connected injuries compared to non-Veterans, lack of flexibility has more deficient support within their psychosocial domain (Eakman, Schelly, Henry, 2015). Thus, OT has a great opportunity for my practice to help identify and develop a support system for troopers to improve their resiliency.

Choosing the right educational facility is essential for further academic performance, which is why the University of North Carolina (UNC) has become my primary choice for pursuing higher education. An outstanding alumni base, with multiple Noble Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners, a broad selection of programs, all contributed to why UNC has to become a place for pursuing an academic career in occupational therapy. Moreover, the OT program at the University of North Carolina is among the top 10 in Nation, which urges me to study there even to a much greater extent. Lastly, OT Master’s program at UNC offers a unique opportunity to learn without prior bachelor’s degrees for people like me, which is an outstanding offer. In such a way, I can enhance and gain a new skill set that meshes well with my current education level and experience.

Learning novel skills, as you get older becomes more challenging; however, I continually seek to go out of my comfort zone and self-develop. The Occupational Prerequisite courses seem to correspond to my already gained set of skills based on my experience. In May of 2020, I completed Battlefield Acupuncture Training, held by Video Tele-Conferencing. The entire activity was increasingly challenging due to the online format; nonetheless, my two-week practice on the soldiers has shown a beneficial effect on their health. I was motivated by other learners as we were collectively overcoming the inconvenience of online education of such a precise procedure. Therefore, this training will highly facilitate me in my future studying of prerequisites.

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References

Cogan, A. M., Haines, C. E., Devore, M. D., Lepore, K. M., & Ryan, M. (2019). Occupational challenges in military service members with chronic mild traumatic brain injury. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 73(3), 7303205040p1. Web.

Eakman, A. M., Schelly, C., & Henry, K. L. (2015). Protective and vulnerability factors contributing to resilience in post-9/11 veterans with service-related injuries in postsecondary education. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 70(1), 7001260010p1. Web.

Strong, S. (1998). Meaningful work in supportive environments: experiences with the recovery process. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 52(1), 31–38. Web.

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