Practice What You Practice: Occupational Therapist Challenge

Don’t ignore your value as a Therapist

As therapists, our job is to support our clients in living the richest lives possible. We’re givers and caretakers — and it’s probably safe to say that at the end of the day we just want to facilitate an environment where our clients have the opportunity to live a quality life. We understand that it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of therapy. It’s exactly why we’ve put together a challenge for you this month. For the remainder of January, we’d like to challenge you to put yourself in the shoes of your client and really experience the value you’re bringing them.

We hope this will shine a light on just how much value you’re bringing to your clients while bringing some balance to your everyday life.

Do it on your own or invite your colleagues to join in for a group challenge to start off the new year.

Are you up for the challenge?

Challenge 1: Quickshifts 101

One of our favorite tools to use in therapy is Quickshifts. In short, Quickshifts quickly shifts the state of alertness and sets up the nervous system for success. These sound tools are a popular therapeutic selection for individuals who need to reset their arousal level or struggle with self-regulation following a stressful event.

They’re also great for reducing stress in your day-to-day life.

So, for our first New Year Challenge, we encourage you to incorporate a Quickshift album into your daily routine and make note of how you feel before and after listening.

Not yet trained in Quickshifts? For your first challenge, we invite you to watch our free Quickshifts webinar to learn a little bit about how you can use Quickshifts not only in your practice, but in your own life as well.

Challenge 2: Focus on breath

We think you’re going to really love how simple, yet effective our second challenge is… We want you to focus on your breath.

Breath is one of the quickest ways to access our physiology and down regulate arousal. However, it is not always as simple as taking a few deep breaths. To truly tap into the part of our nervous system that is calming, the exhale needs to be equal to or longer than the inhale.

Breathe consciously and take notice of your breath when you’re feeling good and again when you’re stressed. On the first day, be aware of how you breathe when you’re answering emails, or in class, and even before and after client sessions.

The goal here is to become more aware of how you’re reacting to situations. You’ll notice, once you become more aware of your breath, it’s easier to pinpoint the things that are causing stress. From there it becomes easier to make any necessary changes.

Starting on the second day, prior to events that cause an increase in stress, try to equalize your inhale with your exhale. Inhale for a count of five seconds and exhale for a count of five seconds for a duration of six breath cycles. This should only take a minute.

Then, pay attention to your stress level after trying this breath balancing technique. Make note of any changes that occur. We highly recommend keeping track so you can reflect upon your experiences.

Challenge 3: Experience the power of play

We’re challenging you to participate in your own “treatment activity” in-clinic or at home.

We’ve put together a short list of our favorite suspension and non-suspension activities and hope you’ll give them a try this week.

  • Take a climb in suspended Lycra. Notice how it feels when you go fast versus when you slow down your movement.
  • Play ball explosions with a friend. See if you can add in a power-sound (ex. “Haa!”) when you kick the ball for added core activation.
  • Find a non-carpeted surface appropriate for a scooter board. While prone, explore pushing from hands to feet between two walls to engage in a little linear vestibular input.
  • Grab a Power Up Ball and a friend. Play a game of Power Up ball rolling tag: while holding a Power Up ball, try to roll away from your friend before they can tag you. Reverse. Now you try to tag your friend. Hard not to start laughing with this activity!

Challenge 4: Experience the down-regulating power of proprioception

We’re so happy you’ve been following along with us, and hope you enjoy this one last challenge we have for you!

Most OTs commonly activate proprioception through activities that involve joint and muscle activation, thus activating the muscle spindle stretch receptors. However, recent information on the Ruffini endings has illuminated the potential to go beyond the muscles and joints. These mechanoreceptors in the deep superficial layers of fascia respond to deep pressure touch, and sliding and gliding motions. They have the potential to globally inhibit sympathetic tone (think fight/flight) in the CNS, along with improving proprioceptive awareness.

To access these receptors, we challenge you to try a game of melting, sliding and gliding at various speeds while positioned prone over a Power Up ball (gives the best melt and glide), or over a small therapy ball. You may try different speeds of sliding and gliding at different points in the day. You might find in the morning you prefer a faster pace to start of your day. In the evening you might find you prefer a slower melt and glide to prepare you for sleep. Sheila created a video of her daytime version of the game.

As therapists, we also may not reciprocate the energy that we willingly generate for our clients to ourselves. Our attention is on them and how we can help them succeed, and often we don’t stop to think about the many ways we’re helping.

Take a few moments to appreciate the ways you help your clients and the impact you have on their lives.


2 Comments on: “Practice What You Practice: Occupational Therapist Challenge

  1. Thank you for this great blog! I shared it with staff and they love it. Now to actually put it into practice is the challenge.
    I enjoy all blogs that you post.

  2. This brings back memories of when I first started yoga & meditation. I was working in adult mental health in New Hampshire and the our team was very supportive of each other as well as of our clients. The community was small enough that we’d encounter clients at bowling as well as at Ravi concerts. This is where I first studied breath. Fast forward many years to Vital Links. It has been so helpful to me in my therapeutic use of “listening and attending”; I am most grateful that parents are able to become instruments in their children’s development.

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