Professional Identity in Occupational Therapy

  • Elizabeth Turner

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The profession of occupational therapy was founded on the core concept that
active participation in meaningful occupation has a positive impact on health and
wellbeing. When a profession owns a strong identity it is able to practice true to
its beliefs. The professional identity of occupational therapists in the United
Kingdom has been shown to have waxed and waned over time. While a strong,
occupation focussed identity was initially established, this was shown to have
suffered significant loss by the 1960s. The increasing regeneration of the
profession’s identity today affords greater acceptance, influence and allows
practitioners to ‘be’ occupational therapists.

This thesis has evaluated the author’s contribution to this regeneration through
her works published. Using the History of Ideas methodology, the thesis
demonstrates how her initial work began to consolidate the profession’s identity
by drawing boundaries around professional practice of the day in the field of
physical dysfunction. Appraisal of her exploration of the profession’s core
concept and development of its philosophy demonstrates how she guided its
increased centralisation within professional practice. The thesis also appraises
the increased centrality of the core concept to professional thinking through her
authorship of texts, curricula and academic papers. It explains how she
facilitated the understanding of complex theories through the creation of new and innovative explanations.

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning was used to appraise how the author’s works
were both proactive and reactive to the profession’s developing academic ability
through the creation of academically appropriate debate. While early works were
necessarily descriptive and didactic, evaluation demonstrates how a rising level
of academic skill was used to critically appraise the causes and consequences of
the profession’s issues with its identity and create an understanding of how the
situation could be addressed. Lastly the thesis presents the positive impact of a
regenerating professional identity.
Date of AwardApr 2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDaniel Kerr (Supervisor), Mary Hannon-Fletcher (Supervisor) & Patricia Mc Clure (Supervisor)


  • core concept

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