Importance of collaboration

Through PPAT I continue to understand the importance of collaboration with clients. Studying OT, we learn about client-centered practice theoretically, but it isn’t completely understood until you experience it empirically. Why should we make decisions jointly with clients, involve clients actively, and be egalitarian? What if I feel I know what is best for them?

I guess it’s all about promoting choice, freedom, and autonomy. As we demonstrate these values, the clients feel empowered, have opinions, and participate actively. We instill confidence in the clients and convey the idea that we view them as competent in their ability to direct and choose their own solution. When my team and I asked my client to freely speak his thoughts, it not only built rapport but also shed light on his talents. We saw how smart and creative he was. Surely, his ideas were very enlightening. As someone with the most knowledge of his own disability, he understood exactly what he needed and exactly what he wanted to have better access to reading his mails. Collaboration allowed him to open up, share his opinions, and suggest his own alternative solutions. Collaboration helped him become excited about meeting with us every week and confident that he also had something to share to the team.

On the flip side, I also see the cautions associated with this collaborative style. Overreliance on this style may not be received well by clients accustomed to, and who prefer to, view service providers as experts. According to Taylor (2008), clients inclined to participate in social or cultural networks with hierarchical role structures may not value collaboration and may be looking for structured instruction, advice, resources, and ongoing direction. Although my client now seems to not be in this population, it is important to know in the future that we should not misunderstand or misperceive less-engaged clients as being passive or even apathetic about finding their own solutions. These clients may be merely behaving within their own sociocultural comfort zones.

In conclusion, ultimately, I learned collaboration comes with understanding our clients’ preferences and allowing as much opportunity for them to shine.

Taylor, R. R. (2008). The intentional relationship: Occupational therapy and use of self. Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis Company.

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