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Philosophy of Integrative Approaches in Occupational Therapy

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

Integrative medicine is a client-centered and holistic practice that focuses on prevention and healing instead of disease elimination (Kligler & Lee, 2013). The practice encompasses the use of mainstream medicine in combination with complementary treatments such as mind-body interventions and energy work (Kligler & Lee, 2013). Through the art of relationship between doctor and patient, the knowledge of science is used to make the best decisions for the individual based on culture, spiritual beliefs, risks, benefits, and preferences (Kligler & Lee, 2013).

The professional philosophy and foundations of the practice of occupational therapy align with this approach. Occupations are meaningful and goal-directed life activities that individuals engage in to occupy their time and attention (AOTA, 2014). Some of these activities include self-care, sleep, work, play, leisure, social participation, and education. Decreased engagement in necessary or desired activities are analyzed considering individual client factors such as body structures and function, performance skills, performance patterns (i.e., habits, routines, roles), contexts, and environments (AOTA, 2014). Therefore, intervention focuses on restoring balance through the therapeutic use of activities that are meaningful to the patient or client.

Occupational therapists collaborate with their clients to integrate complementary health approaches and integrative health (CHAIH) interventions into the therapy process and plan of care to support participation in meaningful activities (Bradshaw & Kannenberg, 2017). For example, yoga practice can be used as an intervention to improve overall strength, body awareness, and balance for engaging in self-care and mobility tasks as well as reduce stress prior to engagement. (Bradshaw & Kannenberg, 2017).


American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). (2014). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process (3rd ed.). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(Suppl. 1), S1– S48.

Bradshaw, M., & Kannenberg, K. (2017). Occupational Therapy and Complementary Health Approaches and Integrative Health. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71, 1–6.

Kligler, B. & Lee, R. (2013). Integrative Medicine: Principles for Practice. New York: McGraw Hill.

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