Niccole Rowe, BA, COTA/L, Coach & Founding Partner

Advocacy Is Needed for Occupational Therapy

photo of Kimberly Breeden and Niccole Rowe
A recent article in Pain Medicine News discussed a new systematic review that demonstrated mind-body therapies may reduce pain and even dosing for opioid mediation (Kronemyer, 2020). The article discussed that the review looked at such mind-body therapies such as meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Policy makers and physicians are looking at ways to promote the use of these types of strategies within our health systems. I noticed when the article discussed how these strategies could be implemented occupational therapy was never mentioned. The article does briefly mention nursing.

Wow! This is such a wake up call for our profession. These are interventions that are within our scope of practice. We also specialize in how these clients can work to integrate these strategies into their daily roles, habits, and routines to continue to achieve these benefits. Yet, it seems no one is looking to OT as a resource during these discussions or to include OT in the plan of care for these clients.

I know that early in my career I would not have known how to advocate for OT’s distinct value in this area. I also didn’t feel very prepared to bring in a treatment such as CBT or meditation during a session where someone was dealing with acute or chronic pain. Thankfully, I was able to grow my skillset where I am more confident in these areas now.

That means that you can too! Think of your clients that are being impacted by pain either acute or chronic. Does the OT staff where you are feel like they have a solid plan or approach to incorporating pain management skills into treatment? If not, consider pursuing some pain specific CEs. Aspire OT has some on-going pain webinars right now that you can take advantage of.

Consider how you could advocate to your referring providers about the value OT brings to treating and managing pain. You can even use the study mentioned in the Pain Medicine News article as evidence of our value. AOTA also has some great guiding documents as well such as this article.

In promotion and advocation for our clients and our profession,
Niccole Rowe, BA, COTA/L, Founding Partner
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Kronemyer, B. (2020). Mind-body therapies may reduce pain, opioid dose. Pain Medicine News.  Retrieved from: