Loud and proud; loving occupational therapy

Last week I spent two days with inspiring occupational therapists at a conference at Plymouth University. It was a good opportunity to reflect and check out whether my professional path is going off at a tangent or actually heading in the right direction.

The high point of the conference was hearing Karen Jacobs from Boston University speak with such passion about occupational therapy. It reaffirmed my belief that in everything we do we can demonstrating the transformational power of occupation. Karen promotes occupational therapy at every opportunity and engages anyone she meets in occupations. First she shows them what it can do, before then telling them about our profession. My social media work and doing volunteering with military charities no longer felt so eccentric!

The other key message that I came home with was that occupational therapists need to be confident in what our profession has to offer for the future of health and social care. Julia Scott, CEO at the College of Occupational Therapists, urged us to be loud and proud. Instead of being nice and polite, not wanting to rock the boat, we should be controversial and feisty. This resonated with a conversation I had the day before the conference when a colleague coaching me in leadership gently suggested that, as well as helping others to find a voice in social media, I needed to make my own heard. So true.

I presented a short paper at the conference encouraging occupational therapists to use social media to inspire as well as inform. I made the case that we need to go beyond marketing to integrate media creatively into our everyday professional practice. We can be leading a movement to form supportive, virtual and healthy communities that connect and engage people, instead of trailing behind these developments.

After two days in Plymouth I travelled to West Cornwall to meet with Mark Wesson the CEO at Surf Action. Readers of my blog will know that I have huge admiration for their work with veterans who have PTSD and I love the evidence base that supports it. Mark welcomed me on board as a non-executive director to join the board of trustees and shared some of the charities future plans to make a positive difference to people’s lives. This will complement beautifully the work that I already do with The Baton and Team Off-Road-It; so it does feel like I’m heading in the right direction!

Find out more about these organisations here:




Photographs from my stay in Cornwall:

Blog pic 1 Blog pic 2 Blog pic 3 Blog pic 4


One thought on “Loud and proud; loving occupational therapy

  1. Great blog Debbie. I agree that OTs need to be more ‘feisty and controversial’. Although I have gone off at a massive tangent into psychotherapy, my love for OT remains – and meaningful occupation is where my roots lie – in fact the blend of Compassion Focused Therapy and OT in mental health is a great mix!


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