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Research Article  |   July 1995
An Exploratory Study of How Occupational Therapists Develop Therapeutic Relationships With Family Caregivers
Author Affiliations
  • Catherine A. Clark, MS, OTR/L, is Instructor Department of Occupational Therapy, Elizabethtown College, 1 Alpha Drive, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania 17022-2298. At the time of this study, she was a student in the professional Master’s of Science Program in the Occupational Therapy Department at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Mary Corcoran, PhD, OTR/L, is Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Laura N. Gitlin, PhD is Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, and Assistant Director, Director of Research, Center for Collaborative Research , Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Article Information
Geriatrics/Productive Aging / Long-Term Care/Skilled Nursing Facilities / Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / Research
Research Article   |   July 1995
An Exploratory Study of How Occupational Therapists Develop Therapeutic Relationships With Family Caregivers
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 1995, Vol. 49, 587-594. doi:10.5014/ajot.49.7.587
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 1995, Vol. 49, 587-594. doi:10.5014/ajot.49.7.587
Abstract

Family members, who provide 70% to 80% of all long-term care, have often been perceived by occupational therapists as a barrier to, rather than a partner in, effective care for elderly persons. This perception suggests that in order 10 build effective partnerships to manage complex issues, occupational therapists working with elderly persons must develop effective strategies for involving family members in the therapeutic process. This article describes a pilot study that examined how occupational therapists engage family caregivers of elderly persons receiving home care services. A qualitative descriptive approach was used to explore the behaviors demonstrated by two occupational therapists when working with family caregivers. The findings point to four primary types occupational therapist–caregiver interaction, categorized as: caring, partnering, informing, and directing. These interaction styles were compared with current literature describing state-of-the-art occupational therapy practices with older adults and family caregivers. An emphasis was placed on examining how therapeutic interactions can evoke different caregiver responses and influence the development and maintenance of collaborative therapeutic relationships. The results of this pilot study can sever as a framework for further exploration of interactive strategies that promote caregiver empowerment and ultimately influence the ability of families to assume responsibility for the long-term care required by many chronically disabled older adults.