Career conversations with occupational therapists: Capturing the qualities of narrative.

ALSOP, Auldeen. (2004). Career conversations with occupational therapists: Capturing the qualities of narrative. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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Occupational therapists are known to use storytelling and storymaking in their clinical practice to assist people with disability to visualise and work towards a positive future which they, themselves, can construct. Little work seems to have been done using the same medium of storytelling with occupational therapists in order to explore aspects of their professional life, career and possible future. The aim of this study was thus to investigate the use of narrative in research and in occupational therapists' clinical practice, and to examine its potential for exploring occupational therapists' career stories.Qualitative research was undertaken drawing on the biographical tradition, life history research and narrative inquiry for its methodology. A total of seven taped interviews were recorded with die agreement of two female occupational therapists who had been in practice for a minimum of eight years. In conversation, they told the story of their entry to the profession and of the ups and downs of their career as an occupational therapist. Emotions such as pleasure and pain seemed to be experienced as their stories emerged.Their narratives produced rich data. Systematic analysis revealed characteristics of both the storytelling process and of the narrative itself. The nature of the occupational therapists' careers and the context in which they were played out became apparent. Despite there being only two participants, their stories illustrated how their work was strongly guided by their personal values. Their stories revealed that triumphs and setbacks at work could be experienced in different ways. Their reflective comments made during the storytelling process sometimes offered new insights into these experiences, so that telling the story became, for them, a way of reviewing the issues and seeing them in a new light.The findings also showed that the therapists' career could not easily be isolated from their home life. The two appeared to be inter-dependent, and in this study were perceived to be in balance. Both occupational therapists expressed satisfaction about their professional and personal life and, as a result, were unwilling to project too far into the future about how their career might develop. It was concluded that storytelling, and the reflection involved in producing the narrative, could assist a therapist to explore issues and dilemmas that occurred at work. The process of telling the story could help to redefine the situation in relation to the context in which it was occurring and could help to determine a satisfactory future course of action. It is possible that storytelling in a confidential relationship with another could assist the professional development, not only of occupational therapists but also of other health professionals. A forum, such as in a mentorship arrangement, could allow work-related issues, career options or opportunities to be explored for their costs and benefits and enable better informed career decisions to be made.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Aspinwall, Kath
Thesis advisor - Clegg, Sue
Additional Information: Thesis (Ed.D.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 2004.
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:19
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2021 11:47

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