Exploring occupational motivation through personal narratives

Christopher McKenna, Cath Wright

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


According to Kielhofner (2008) humans have an intense and pervasive need to act. As occupational therapists we draw upon that need and the underlying desire for occupation. This project has collected narratives from ordinary people talking
about why they do ordinary things. What has been gathered is an extraordinary collection of stories, motivations and emotions which contain a rich source of data which occupational therapy can draw upon when considering the motivation of the client.
Key aspects of this project have fed into our teaching in order that occupational therapy students might explore and appreciate the personal drive of individuals without the difficult contexts of life.
The participants were each interviewed individually within their own work or home context: a context which reflects the occupation under discussion. Each interview was recorded and subsequently transcribed by the interviewer. The transcript was
then returned to the participant to verify the narrative reflected the story shared. This narrative was then used as a resource for exploring occupation and occupational motivation.
Drawing on these stories occupational therapists can begin to order what Frank (2010) refers to as the elements of attention and value. The first of these elements helps us to understand who the individual is from their personal expression of
themselves. The other shows what is valued and appreciated by the individual. The narrative permits the therapist to explore the expressed identity of the individual with the self-identified roles and obligations. The elements of personal causation, values and interests effectively defined by Kielhofner (2008) allow a
deconstruction of the volition without the limits placed upon the therapist in practice and affording the opportunity for discussion, reflection and consideration of theory. On all levels this enables therapists to develop a critical understanding of occupation and the meaning ascribed to personal narratives.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventCollege of Occupational Therapists Annual Conference 2016 - Harrogate International Centre, Harrogate, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Jun 201630 Jun 2016
Conference number: 40


ConferenceCollege of Occupational Therapists Annual Conference 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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