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Occupational Therapy Week 2017

What Matters To You?

As occupational therapists, we often start by asking veterans this question. It’s  important to us to find out what matters to them and what they would like their lives to look like. 

What roles are important to them? This could range from being a parent to an employee / employer, a good friend to a member of a sport team. We are also interested in veterans’ values, what their interests are, how they would like to spend each day, and what their dreams and hopes are. 

We also take notice of the difficulties veterans experience and what it is that prevents them from participating in things that matter to them.   This could be due to symptoms of their illness, a lack of skills, difficulty defining their identity outside of the military service, financial difficulties or lack of support.

With this information we start to build a picture of who the veteran is, what they would like to achieve and what the obstacles are. We look at the balance between:

• Productivity (work, volunteering, education)
• Leisure (doing something pleasurable - hobbies, socialising, sport, etc.)
• Self-care (sleep, eating, personal hygiene, shopping, driving, etc.)

We assist veterans to then structure their activities and build a healthy routine. Once the structure is in place, we work with the veterans to find meaningful activities to add into their lives. It could be an activity that they used to do or a new activity that gives meaning to their life, such as painting, photography, reading, doing a course, joining a group, working with animals, playing golf, cooking, nature, going to the movies or yoga. The list is endless.

Throughout this process occupational therapists assist veterans to set achievable goals, give them the tools and skills they need to participate, solve difficulties, build resilience and discover new meaning and enjoyment in life. It all leads to building a life that matters.