University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Student Ambassador Blog | Alix


Storytelling in OT

, by Alix · email · comment

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This past week, I attended a fantastic seminar on the power of storytelling and deep listening in healthcare settings. I had the privilege of meeting a number of other healthcare professionals and students, including doctors, nurses, psychologists, massage therapists, physical therapists, and even a hospice chaplain. (I became very adept at defining OT!) We learned about a technique called “joint construction of narrative,” which involves listening to the patient and helping him/her to weave a story out of his/her life and illness experience. Then, we learned about the importance of “mirroring” the patient’s story, reflecting it back truthfully rather than trying to “fix” the problems. (This is harder than it sounds!)

As a former English major, I love a good story, and one of the things I like most about OT is the opportunity to hear compelling life stories from clients. Because we aren’t saddled with the same time constraints as many other healthcare professionals, we can settle in and enjoy the rich process of listening to the people we work with. I think a lot of people, especially in underserved populations, don’t have many opportunities to tell their story in a nurturing, supportive environment. So it seems like we have a responsibility to provide that environment whenever we can with OT. Anyway, off my soapbox now!  😊 Bottom line: I’m excited to be able to take storytelling from my undergrad English days all the way into a new career in OT.

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