Therapeutic use of self: Essential stuff not ‘fluff’

Breanna Cave, Lin WEGENER, Katie COLE

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


Introduction: Occupational therapy has always emphasised the importance of therapists’ interactions with clients and evidence supports that success in client participation relies on the quality of the therapist‐client relationship. Furthermore, the concept of ‘Therapeutic Use of Self’ refers to a therapist's planned and conscious use of themselves as part of the therapeutic process to optimise client interactions. Whilst occupation‐focused models should always underpin occupational therapy practice, research recommends that ‘Therapeutic Use of Self’ should be used in conjunction with these models to enhance the relational aspects of therapy. However, to the best of our knowledge, occupational therapists’ knowledge and skills in ‘Therapeutic Use of Self’ has not been explored in an Australian context. Objectives: This study investigates: (1) the current knowledge of Australian occupational therapists regarding ‘Therapeutic Use of Self’ at a local level; (2) the impact of a targeted workshop on ‘Therapeutic Use of Self’ for occupational therapists. Method: 39 occupational therapists (35% response rate) from a metropolitan health service responded to an online survey regarding their knowledge, skill and use of ‘Therapeutic Use of Self’. Results have been used to inform a future workshop for occupational therapists in October 2018. Semi‐structured interviews will be conducted with participants three months post workshop regarding the impact of the workshop on their knowledge, skill and utilisation of ‘Therapeutic Use of Self’ in clinical practice. Results: Whilst 77% of occupational therapists surveyed reported they valued ‘Therapeutic Use of Self’, only 23% reported they were sufficiently trained to implement this skill within their clinical practice. Conclusion: Preliminary survey findings advocate for further training in ‘Therapeutic Use of Self’ and the relational aspect of the occupational therapy process. It is anticipated that providing education on ‘Therapeutic Use of Self’ will increase therapists’ confidence in using this skill in clinical practice to improve client outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-57
Number of pages1
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


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