I am thankful every day when I think back on the journey that got me to doing the job I love. I remember clearly the day that I discovered the field of Occupational Therapy at a University career expo - I loved the idea that I could work with any age group in a variety of areas such as physical, psychiatry and paediatrics, as well as the practical hands-on nature of the work.
Where I was most humbled in my journey as an OT was in completing my community service year, specifically in doing outreach clinics at isolated and poorly serviced areas of Mpumalanga. Working there taught me how important it is to meet every person in their circumstances, to not only teach but to learn from how others overcome challenges, and to celebrate the little things. From there I was privileged to work at Witbank Provincial Hospital that had at that time recently been upgraded and modernised. Here I learned however that even the best techniques and equipment will not enhance someone’s quality of life if they are not motivated and empowered to help themselves. It is here that my journey as a psychiatric OT also started- I did a rotation in the acute psychiatric ward and what was supposed to be a 4-week rotation lasted 8 months! I was fascinated by every patient’s story and thoroughly enjoyed working with patients to implement practical strategies to better manage with their diagnoses and create a rewarding daily routine. I was also instrumental in setting up an outpatient support group for chronic mental health care users.
Relocating, I moved to the private sector where I worked at an Akeso Psychiatric Clinic. Although I was involved in doing skills-based groups in the General Unit (depression, anxiety and personality disorders), I was mainly facilitating groups in the Dual Diagnosis Unit. It is in the DDU where I discovered my true passion. I loved facilitating skills groups (on communication and social skills, conflict management, distress tolerance and emotion regulation, as well as on boundaries). More specifically I enjoyed working together with recovering addicts on the 12-Step Addiction Recovery programme and brainstorming practical solutions to overcoming problems with reintegrating back into home, work and social environments after admission. I also developed an immense respect for every person who was incredibly brave in sharing their life story, vulnerabilities and mistakes openly and honestly. It is here that I learned the importance of being heard and accepted before one is empowered to change. That is why Dialectical Behavioural Therapy is my preferred framework when doing therapy.
In pursuit of building up my skills and experience I then embarked on my own journey. In the last five years, I have mainly worked in the medico-legal field doing physical and psychiatric assessments to determine suitability to return to work, and to recommend those professional interventions, assistive devices, pieces of equipment, environmental modifications and forms of assistance which may be necessary to allow people to function optimally at home, at work and in leisure activities. In doing this work I developed a keen interest in chronic pain. I gained considerable report writing experience and was also trained and accredited in the use of specialist assessment tools such as the WorkWell Systems FCE v2 and the Psychiatric Functional Capacity Evaluator. I am also working in paediatrics, mainly using the Sensory Integration frame of reference in treating children with sensory processing disorders, auditory processing disorders, learning difficulties, concentration and impulsivity difficulties, gross motor and coordination impairment as well as social impairment. I have learnt a great deal regarding the plasticity of the human brain and how a sensory diet and the correct sensory ergonomics can help children, adolescents and adults in leading more productive and fulfilling lives. Additionally, I co-facilitate adolescent DBT groups.
I believe that my journey and culmination of interests and skills thus far has equipped me in delivering holistic and practical assistance to clients who are having difficulties in coping with areas of life including work, social, leisure or home management. I love working collaboratively with clients in discovering and unpacking their unique strengths and challenges, offering therapy using a variety of frameworks to build coping skills, assessing and adjusting environments and support systems to better facilitate personal growth and success, and to provide ongoing support and encouragement when needed. My wish for each person that crosses my path is to have a happy, healthy and satisfying life!
- B(OT) UP
- WorkWell Systems FCE v2 accreditation
- Psychiatric Functional Capacity Evaluator accreditation
- Dialectical Behavioural Therapy certificates
- Practice number 050 8640
My Clinical Experience
January 2011 – December 2011
Ermelo Provincial Hospital: Community Service Occupational Therapist.
January 2012 – September 2013
Witbank Provincial Hospital: Junior/ Grade 1 Occupational Therapist.
August 2013 – March 2015
Akeso Psychiatric Clinic: Facilitating skills-based group therapy.
April 2015 – March 2017
ReintergrateOT: Medico-legal Occupational Therapist carrying out and reporting on Functional Capacity Evaluations.
September 2015 – August 2018
WholenessOT: Paediatric Occupational Therapist addressing learning delays in children using a Sensory Integration frame of reference.
March 2017 – current
Catherine Rice Occupational Therapists: Medico-legal Occupational Therapist carrying out and reporting on Functional Capacity Evaluations.
October 2017 – current
The Day Clinic: Psychiatric Occupational Therapist facilitating adolescent group therapy using Dialectical Behavioural Therapy principles
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