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Welcome to the Occupational Therapy International Online Network (OTION).

Our goal is to provide an online resource for the international occupational therapy community through this on-line forum.

You will have the opportunity to participate in discussion topics related to your practice area and interact with your international colleagues. A moderator, who will be a resource to the group, monitors each topic.

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#1 Thursday 15th of September 2016 02:53

Thoughts about Culturally Competent OT Practice

Hi all,
I am a 4th year OT student who is exploring the concept of cultural competency within practice. I am hoping that practitioners in the field can provide me with any advice or feedback on my key learning’s of culturally competent OT practice, based on your experiences and application of culturally competent principles within practice? I also hope to develop a resource of reflective questions I can use to guide my self-evaluation around my ability to provide culturally competent services, so I would be very interested in hearing anyone’s ideas about some key self-reflective questions they use in practice to evaluate their service provision.

My thoughts on how to become culturally competent in practice:

1. Develop self-awareness: each therapist must critically reflect upon and recognize their own cultural identity, heritage, values and experiences. They must understand and examine how these influence their biases and prejudices, stereotypes, assumptions, and their capacities and limitations for treating culturally diverse clients to take responsibilities of the attitudes affecting professional behaviour. Through this process, one can increase their tolerance and acceptance of different values, attitudes behaviors and perceptions, and show an intentional drive to continually broaden my cultural understanding.

2. Develop cultural knowledge: involves developing and expanding knowledge about the clients culture and socio-cultural influences to assist the therapists understanding of the world-views of clients through a different cultural lens. It is important to have the adaptability and flexibility to treat each individual client as having a unique culture and experiences, and thus, not all cultural specific knowledge will be applicable.

3. Develop and apply cultural skills: these skills can involve a number of things, specifically the ability to conduct a client cultural assessment to understand their life-ways and perspectives and adapt practice based on this data gathered. Using effective and respectful communication techniques to create an interpersonal connection, with specific focus on non-verbal communication cues. Planning and implementing culturally responsive interventions which allows clients to express and honor cultural meaning and identity.

I am interested to hear your thoughts about how you implement culturally competent principles in practice, and any ideas of some self-reflective evaluation questions for my professional practice!

Thanks, Ellise


#2 Sunday 27th of November 2016 13:47

Re: Thoughts about Culturally Competent OT Practice

Hi Ellise,

Good on you, three excellent points. Two thoughts spring to mind:

Kleinman's list of questions to elicit explanatory models of ill-health could be helpful. Understanding what it's called, what caused it, why now, what course, what severity, what consequences, what treatment is expected helps us talk in terms that "make sense" to the person. When it comes to negotiating a plan, it's good to have this more nuanced understanding. If it can't be their natural preference, it can at least be culturally safe, acceptable and show respect.

Intercultural practice will be a extremely crude if linguistic diversity is not also considered alongside cultural diversity. So much so, that people systemically don't get access to services they need until it's an acute problem, or have worse experiences of services, or worse outcomes from services. Even if language support is not acknowledged or resourced in a setting, linguistic diversity and the nature of/absence of language support needs to be accounted for in both reasoning and practice.

Hope that's of some help.



Settlement Services Coordinator, Migrant Resource Centre. All views my own. Sporadic tweets from Tasmania @ClarissaAdriel


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