Meeting the Needs of Those Interested in Occupational Therapy

Clarifying Facts with Problem, Anaysis and SolutionA few days ago, I had the opportunity to talk to someone who was interested in having me come to give a talk to a group he attended. To begin with it sounded wonderful that there was a group interested in hearing about occupational therapy and then a statement caused a problem. I would like to share about this comment in order to clarify exactly what is meant by “meeting the needs of those interested in learning about occupational therapy”.

The Request Made:

The person made a request that I make the group feel good by letting them know that occupational therapy began in Israel. In his opinion, Israel was the forerunner to OT. He was very insistent that the talk has to make the group feel proud about being Israelis.

My Response:

I would like to respond to this request on three levels. This will include what is meant by meeting the needs of those interested in learning about occupational therapy, a little about the time frame of when occupational therapy became recognized as a profession and something about the philosophy behind occupational therapy. Let us begin with the second idea first, then we will go to the third and we will end with the first idea, which was what he was most concerned about.

  1. The time frame of Occupational Therapy being recognized as a profession:The history of occupational therapy is fascinating and we will touch on a few ideas shortly. However, if we look at just a few facts in terms of time frame, an important detail will emerge. Occupational therapy became formally recognized as a profession in 1917 in the United States of America or the USA. This was during the time of WWI. The state of Israel as it is known on a secular level came into being post WWII. That means that for the secular Jew living in Israel who has a strong Zionistic attitude and likes to believe that everything began in Israel, just based on time frame, the request can not be. The correct fact is that the first course in occupational therapy was set up in Israel in 1964.
  2. A little background to the philosophy of occupational therapy:If we look at the philosophy of occupational therapy, it is true to say that the beginnings of the ideas of occupational therapy can be traced back to the Bible. However, if we are to find a correlation between occupational therapy and the Bible, we will have to look at the Torah, which means to consider Israel not as a secular state but in terms of the history of the world as described in the Bible, meaning in the Torah. This means the focus of the request will differ. Instead of wanting to find origins in the country that the secular Jew is proud of, we have to acknowledge that the Land of Israel has an important connection to the Jewish people as being the leaders in how to fulfill our role as human beings in this world according to the will of the creator of the world, the One who gave Israel to the Jewish people. That means that the focus of the land of Israel and the origin of occupational therapy both have to differ. In order to do so, we can no longer have a talk from a secular perspective but are forced to bring in a major factor which is G-d, the Creator of the Universe and all that is.
    The truth is that occupational therapy acknowledges the importance of looking at the spiritual dimension as part of ensuring health and well being. We see this in a few models one of them being the Canadian Model of Occupational Therapy. The topic of occupational therapy and spirituality we will leave for now and pick up in another post, and yes, in a book that is in process.
  3. Finally, what does meeting the needs of someone interested in learning about occupational therapy mean?
    When I mention that I am happy to listen to the needs of a group in formulating the talk to be offered about occupational therapy, I do not mean to alter truth or facts. Clearly, by looking at the basic time line of the start of occupational therapy as a profession, the state of Israel were not the forerunners, the Americans were. I do not alter fact in my talks. There is enough that is wonderful and exciting that I do not need to enter into fantasy.
    What I am happy to listen to is e.g. what is the age group I will be listening to. If the age group is a group of high school students then the talk will cater to ideas of OT as a career. If their need is to hear how OT can help them as teenagers working towards being successful in their transition to young adults then that is a realistic need and goal that can and will be addressed. Similarly, if the group consists of new mothers who are all young adults, then their needs would relate more to their role of mother in the phase of the life cycle of a young adult as opposed to an older woman who is finally blessed with children. As we can see, their needs are specific and realistic. Their needs also fit into what an OT can address and answer to.
    For those who have the need to explore fantasy, yes we can do an exercise of creative thinking and show how OT can help them to expand their thinking through accessing and maximizing their imagination. However, I would like to draw a distinction here, although there is benefit to working with the imagination, I can not and will not alter the history of occupational therapy to suit the imagination or fantasy of someone who will only invite me to speak if I meet a false need. To a group wanting information that differs from fact, my answer is find another speaker. To a group who is interested in learning about the real profession of occupational therapy, yes I am happy to give a talk. I offer talks in person or online. If you would like to book a talk, please contact me via my contact page.

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Why we need to talk about Occupational Science as well as Occupational Therapy

Image with word "Blog" and a picture of the globe

Earlier this year my blog What is occupational therapy? went viral with nearly 40,000 views and over 20,000 Facebook shares I found myself at the forefront of promoting occupational therapy. This is not something I had set out to do, but having been catapulted into that position I tried to circulate the post more because occupational therapists and others around the world seemed to relate to my explanations of occupational therapy.

Ours is the only profession that promotes meaningful engagement in every day activities, and I believe it is vital that we retain that identity and can articulate why we are the best profession to do that. In the UK, promotion of occupational therapy largely focuses on our role within the National Health Service (NHS). Essentially, this amounts to attempting to reduce NHS costs by either keeping people out of hospital, or facilitating speedier discharges from hospital. In any case the promotion of our role appears to be mainly concerned with saving the National Health Service (NHS) money and keeping people out of hospital.

But, I believe, we have a far more profound role in preventative health and supporting people to live well. As occupational therapists we know that our occupations keep us well, give us meaning in life, and motivate us to get up in the morning. Science backs this up. Further, neuroscience research now suggests that occupation has the power to distract us from pain and anxiety.

Potter at the Wheel

But other professionals seem to be making claims about the positive effect of occupations like gardening, singing and art and crafts etc. When these things are shared on social media there is often a comment added along the lines of ‘great, but I wish it had been an occupational therapist that did it’. In the media others appear to be writing and taking credit for the work that occupational therapists practice day to day.

For example Dr Tamlin Connor a psychologist and lead study author for research printed in the Journal of Positive Psychology into the effect on well being after participating in arts and crafts states:

“Engaging in creative behaviour leads to increases in well-being the next day, and this increased well-being is likely to facilitate creative activity on the same day.

“Overall, these findings support the emerging emphasis on everyday creativity as a means of cultivating positive psychological functioning.”

We know this: it is our bread and butter. But we need to make sure other people know.

We all know occupational therapy is hard to explain as it is so broad and varied, but we owe our colleagues around the world and the colleagues coming after us to do this. Lets make it easy for ourselves – we just have to explain our role, not all the possibilities of positions and work places for occupational therapy, lets keep it simple for us and our audience. As an occupational therapist I question: 1) what’s the difficulty? 2) why is it a difficulty? 3) how can life be made better? 4) what can we do about it?

Can you base your explanation around this?

Black Board with the questions Why, What, Where, When and Who

We need to start being confident explaining occupational science too. I feel it’s an historical problem for us that occupational therapy came first and then the science: occupational science came much later. We’re playing catch up, we’re only 100 years old (in USA) and we knew we were on to something before we had the science and the evidence base. Medics took over 2500 years to get their evidence base together. Occupational science was named in 1989. As an analogy, if evidence for medicine has been around for one hour, occupational science has been here for 30 seconds.

For every person that doesn’t know what occupational therapy is there are probably many more who have never heard of occupational science. It’s new and it’s exciting, so lets be loud and proud about explaining the value of occupational therapy and it’s underpinning in occupational science. We have the evidence, there is much more to us and our profession than ‘feeling good when we do a hobby’.

If other professionals don’t know what we do then our holistic and creative practice and professional integrity is at stake. The more other professionals understand what we do the more likely we are to get more referrals, get more funding and prevent other professionals encroaching on our work.

So I urge you to get confident explaining your understanding of occupational science and your role as an occupational therapist so we can promote the profession and protect are uniqueness.

Go and add to our history: tell somebody today what you do and the science behind it.

This guest post has been written by Alice  McGarvie of From the Harp. Alice has a MS in Occupational Therapy, obtained certification in Harp Therapy and practices in the UK.


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My Books Finally Arrive

Shoshanah with box of books

After waiting for more than a month, we were delighted when there was a ring at the front door and there was an arrival. In the video that follows you can find out what arrived. I guess the image above gives it away! But yes, 10 copies of my book “Healing Your Life Through Activity” have finally arrived.

I hope you will enjoy this short fun video. Stay tuned for further videos and information about this and further books. In the meantime, happy watching and do let us know if you enjoyed the video, the cover design or have questions about the book.

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What Inspired Me To Write My Latest Book?

Open Book
Open Book

I am very excited to have had a Guest Post featured on the blog: The Chocolate Lady’s Book Reviews.

I totally love the name of her blog. I love chocolates too! But before I go off on a tangent, let’s get back to the Guest Post. The post outlined the story behind how I came to write my book:Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapist’s Story.” In the post I shared what brought me to write the book to begin with and how I came to dedicate it to my beloved Grandfather. I also mentioned that the manuscript was shelved for a few years before I discovered self-publishing.

In this post, I would like to share why I came to re-visit the manuscript and prepare it to self-publish. Like I said, I had shelved the book and was going to leave it there, however, I began to realize that there really is a very great need for the book. Prior to my making Aliyah, I had begun to work towards developing my dream centre. When I made Aliyah, I brought my business plan with me. I had this wonderful idea that I would do my ulpan and medical ulpan to learn Hebrew well enough to begin working in my profession, complete what was necessary to obtain my license to work in Israel and then. Well, the next step would be part-time work in a facility or two and part-time developing a private practice in order to begin with developing a client base necessary to start my dream centre. I thought my plan was wonderful. I had all the right steps in place, or so I thought. It might take a little time but I knew I had an incredible profession. I knew there was a need for occupational therapists so I was sure I would find work relatively easily. I had found work in South Africa, UK and USA. I was even asked to be head of department in the UK, so surely I would find work in Israel too?

Here comes the hard reality. In Israel, there is an issue with age and let’s face it you do not get 12 or more years experience, like I had when I came, if you are still just 18. Yes, I found work, but the work had a problem paying. I do not understand how facilities can hire staff and then refuse to pay them, but such is the life in Israel. I had several offers for work at ₪23-25 an hour. No I am not talking about working as a receptionist, I am talking about working as an OT, with experience. I am not in a position to work for minimum wage, so I had to strive to get better pay. Alongside my challenge in finding salaried work came the challenge of these facilities respecting one’s time outside of work. The extremely high demands on one’s personal time, all unpaid of course, impacted on my time to develop a private practice which was my ultimate goal.

So there were challenges in the work front and as I began to network my frustration came to be tested in so many ways. One of my pet peeves was being told to give up my profession and just clean houses. Sadly they all told me I would earn better cleaning houses than I would working as an OT. Well, I did not put myself through university to clean houses, neither did I obtain qualification in an incredible profession to just shelve my skills.

I tried networking with the small business development centre only to discover they have no idea what occupational therapy is and hence did not believe that my dream centre was OT. When trying to obtain referrals to work privately I kept coming up against arrogant statements that what I do and what I am building is not OT.

Gradually, the penny dropped so loud and so hard I could no longer ignore it. If I could somehow help others to understand just exactly how incredible occupational therapy is, surely they would no longer tell me it is not needed. I would no longer hear what you do is not OT, for now they would understand what OT is and that it is a very needed profession, globally. Maybe there will even be more respect of the profession in order for there to be better salaries. Surely someone with a worthwhile degree deserves more than someone doing menial labour such as house cleaning.

So now, I set to work and I worked at it for days, weeks, months and more. As I often say, the book went through a total transformation, but I am very excited to finally have the book available in print. In addition to the book now being available for sale, I also offer talks and workshops on what occupational therapy is and a range of other topics.

Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer and co-author of “Tuvia Finds His Freedom” and author of “Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapist’s Story



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Introducing: “Healing Your Life Through Activity” by Shoshanah Shear

Press Announcement


It is amazing how related events happen simultaneously! When I checked my social media platforms this morning I could not help but notice a discussion among fellow occupational therapists. The topic is: “what frustrates us most about OT not being well understood.” It’s a large discussion going on and amazing that this topic comes up year after year for as long as I have known about the profession and probably before too. Why is this significant?

Well, it just so happens to be one of several reasons as to why my latest book was written. As stated, the book was written for a few reasons:

  • To satisfy the request of patient’s of mine and their families who were frustrated that they had not been referred to OT sooner
  • To find a solution for my own frustration that the amazing profession I had studied is not well recognized or appreciated.
  • My attempts to market my services as a private practitioner repeatedly came up against the same road block, namely: Lack of understanding of what OT is or what it offers.
Cover of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story" by Shoshanah Shear
Cover of “Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapist’s Story” by Shoshanah Shear

Being proactive I have written a book that I aim to be the first of several. The book has a four sections to it. The largest section is a journey through the life cycle using my work experience to illustrate the impact that OT makes at all stages of development. There is so much that I can write about the book. First I would like to share that the book is dedicated to my late grandfather, Professor Vincent Louis Granger, a very inspiring person who overcame disability and chronic pain and lived a long fulfilling life dedicated to improving conditions for others on many levels. I am happy to say that the book has been released and is available on

CreateSpace eStore:


Amazon UK:

and will be available on other online stores shortly!

Join my Facebook “author page”: to stay up to date on further developments of the book, talks to be offered, and other options to obtain a copy of the book. I am always happy to be in touch or to offer web seminars or radio interviews for those wishing to be further enlightened as to the benefits of the wonderful profession of occupational therapy.

Buy your copy today and you can learn something about my grandfather and his contribution to the disabled population. You can also learn something about the profession of occupational therapy and what an amazing impact it has on the lives of our clients. As a colleague of mine, Claudia Williams, shared in the book: “Medicine saves lives but occupational therapy helps one to live one’s life!”


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In the Spirit of World OT Day

Logo of World OT Day Prepared by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists
Logo of World OT Day Prepared by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists

There are so many ideas on my mind for posts to go onto this new blog, however, perhaps the most suitable is one that really should have gone up last week. Did you know that there is a World OT (occupational therapy) Day? Just like there is a Mother’s Day, a Father’s Day, A Friends Day and all kinds of other days, one day in the year is devoted to World OT Day. It is a day when OTs around the world promote our profession in some way. I had hoped to get this blog post out on the correct day, which was the 27th October 2016. Sadly my time schedule did not permit it, however, I did achieve another goal and that is to complete recording a video and preparing a crowdfundraiser towards raising the necessary funds for a book that I am bringing out to promote OT. The work involved in setting this up took a few days, but the crowdfundraiser went live on World OT Day!

Shoshanah with Proof Copy of her book "Healing Your Life Through Activity"
Shoshanah with Proof Copy of her book “Healing Your Life Through Activity”

I am very happy that the crowdfundraiser went up on the right day, but I had hoped to co-ordinate this post with it too. Either way, now comes the hard work and that is to get the word out. As a result, this post is to share a little about the campaign and to encourage you, the reader to visit the campaign and get involved to help me to reach my goal. The campaign is entitled: “Healing Your Life Through Activity“, as it is the book title that I am working to complete and that requires funds. The campaign is to come up with the necessary funds to complete the editing and bring this book into being. Once the book is ready to launch, further costs are involved in effective marketing and promotion.

What is the book about?

The book is written to promote my profession of occupational therapy. Most people do not know what OT is or the far reaching benefits to a very large percentage of the population. Please visit my campaign and help to bring this important book into being. Help the world to recognize an invaluable profession.

There are two ways to help. You can visit the campaign and make a contribution or you can share the campaign. Actually, if you make a contribution you can share the campaign too!

Here is the link.

If you visit the above link, you will find some other ways that you can assist. One fun way is to get involved in our virtual book tour. We are still in need of suitable blogs to host a post about the book when it is ready to be launched. The post can be a Q & A post from interviewing the author, it can be a post that I have prepared or it can be a book review completed by the manager of the blog. Find out more about the Virtual Book Tour on:

Join Us For A Virtual Book Tour

Thank you for your assistance


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