The Atlantic School of Occupational Therapy was established in 1982 as the only occupational therapy education program in Atlantic Canada. The School exists in response to strong regional advocacy, particularly since 1958 when a School was approved in principle by the University Senate. The regional orientation of the School fosters collaborative teaching, research and professional activities linking those at the university with occupational therapy and other service providers, government workers, and citizens in the four Atlantic Provinces. This regional mandate is combined with an international perspective linking Dalhousie with universities and communities for fieldwork and research.
Occupational therapy is a health profession concerned with promoting participation in meaningful and desired daily life occupations (e.g., caring for the self or home, engaging in leisure pursuits, working, studying). Occupational therapists work to promote justice and equity so that all persons have the opportunity and ability to engage in meaningful daily occupations.
Occupation is viewed broadly to include everything we do to “occupy” ourselves in enjoying life, looking after ourselves and others, and contributing to the social and economic productivity of our communities.
Health is viewed broadly as having the ability, opportunity and resources, for quality of life with meaningful occupations in supportive environments.
Occupational therapists use their unique and diverse knowledge and skills to enable individuals, groups, and organizations to overcome obstacles that limit their ability to do the things they need and want to do. Obstacles addressed by occupational therapists may include illness, injury, physical or mental disability, developmental delay, social disadvantage, old age, and environmental barriers within the home, community and workplace. The focus can be either on enabling individual change, or enabling change in physical and social environments, policies or legislation to enhance occupational performance and engagement in society. Strategies may facilitate change in skills, attitudes, routines, design of buildings, use of assistive technology, policies, etc.
The role of an occupational therapist is varied and challenging. Occupational issues are never the same because no two people or environments are ever exactly the same. The challenge for occupational therapists is to plan and implement the “just right” program or strategy for each and every client so that everyone can achieve just opportunities to participate in society.