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Occupational Therapy in the Home First Community Support Team: Jacky

The Beginning

Jacky came across Occupational Therapy for the first time, after finishing his undergraduate degree in psychology, when he was searching for opportunities in the mental health field. Jacky was interested to learn that Occupational Therapy referred to more than just work, but a range of meaningful roles and activities that make up who we are. Knowing the importance that these occupations/activities had in his own life and wellness, he thought this would be a perfect fit.

Home First

Jacky has had the opportunity to work in a number of different roles on the Homes First Team at CMHA, applying his Occupational Therapy knowledge to each one. Some of the projects that he has been involved in include helping clients establish personally meaningful goals, assisting them in establishing functioning and independence, as well as providing customized recommendations to each client and their case manager.

In his current role as a Clinical Lead, Jacky works with all members of the team to find different ways to address the occupational needs of our clients, through things like advocacy, strengthening community partnerships or exploring opportunities for meaningful activities within the community.

Adjusting to the changes brought forth by COVID, Occupational Therapists at CMHA have had to adapt and come up with creative ways to serve our clients. This involves helping clients find ways to access resources and breaking down barriers, allowing them to stay engaged in their social and occupational lives.

The History of Occupational Therapy

Although Occupational Therapists can be found across most healthcare settings these days, the career actually started in the mental health field, at a time when mental illness was less understood and treatments were inhumane and ineffective. The pioneers of occupational therapy found that patients did much better when they were engaged in activity, deciding to turn this into a treatment within mental health facilities.

Venn diagram of Occupational Therapy: What the person wants to do, unique abilities and environment

Recognizing Diversity and Playing to People’s Strengths

One of the things that Jacky loves most about his career is that it is strengths-based and recognizes the potential in every person. A guiding principle for Occupational Therapy practice is to find the best fit between what the person wants to do, their unique abilities, as well as their environment. He believes that the profession really champions diversity, recognizing that everyone can thrive given the right match of environment and skills. Jacky uses this as his guiding principle in his day to day practices and works to ensure that this is communicated well to the people he works with.

Jacky believes that many in this profession use the duration of their career to educate the public and co-workers on what they do, but is thankful for opportunities like Occupational Therapy Month that really encourage others to ask more about their work.


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