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Research Article  |   July 1995
Sexual Orientation: Its Relevance to Occupational Science and the Practice of Occupational Therapy
Author Affiliations
  • Jeanne Jackson, PhD, OTR, is Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Southern California, 1540 Alcazar Street, CHP-133, Los Angeles, California 90033
Article Information
Practice
Research Article   |   July 1995
Sexual Orientation: Its Relevance to Occupational Science and the Practice of Occupational Therapy
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 1995, Vol. 49, 669-679. doi:10.5014/ajot.49.7.669
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 1995, Vol. 49, 669-679. doi:10.5014/ajot.49.7.669
Abstract

This article examines how sexual orientation may be relevant to the study of occupations and the practice of occupational therapy. It is suggested that a lesbian, gay, or bisexual orientation may influence the occupations in which a person engages, the symbolic interpretation of those occupations, and the environmental contingencies of those occupations, and thus is an appropriate topic for occupational scientists to address. With the use of clinical reasoning studies and literature on authentic occupational therapy, it is argued that a person’s lesbian, gay, or bisexual orientation may be relevant to the therapeutic process if therapists are to truly achieve an intersubjective understanding of the patient’s world and create an environment in which the patient is able to live a meaningful life. Given this argument as a foundation, the article explores why sexual orientation may be overlooked in some of the theoretical perspectives that guide practice. The narrative perspective on identity is introduced as one potentially valuable way that occupational therapy researchers and practitioners may understand sexual orientation and its relationship to occupation. Specifically it is suggested that sexual orientation may be understood, in part, as a symbolic theme of meaning that informs values and convictions that may then be expressed in one’s choice of occupations.