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School of Occupational Therapy

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School of Occupational Therapy History & Philosophy

The University of Indianapolis graduated its first Master of Occupational Therapy class in December 1987 under the direction of the program’s founder, Dr. Zona (Dotty) Weeks. In 2000, the program was renamed the School of Occupational Therapy. Seven years later, the School of Occupational Therapy joined with the Krannert School of Physical Therapy under the umbrella of the UIndy College of Health Sciences. Throughout all those years of growth and change, the University of Indianapolis School of Occupational Therapy has earned recognition as one of the premier institutions in the education of outstanding clinicians. The School now offers an entry-level Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) and an entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD).  Since 2007, the School has been under the direction of Dr. Kate DeCleene Huber. 

Statement of Philosophy

Humans are occupational beings who actively engage in occupations that are productive, pleasurable, and give restoration (Pierce, 2003). Balance among these occupations may vary for each individual and may change throughout one’s lifespan. Engagement in occupation is vital to one’s health and well-being (Wilcock, 2007). The influence of one’s health, the environment in which one functions, and the required tasks impact the individual’s balance among productivity, pleasure, and restoration. It is important for a person to recognize the impact his/her engagement in occupation has on health and quality of life. Humans are complex and multi-dimensional, and can only be fully understood by viewing their existence from a holistic perspective, taking into consideration contextual factors such as cultural and societal norms and expectations. The ability to make choices and adapt to change illustrates the power of self-determination and free will that the human possesses and that are foundational to the philosophy of occupational therapy.

 “Occupations are central to a client’s (person’s, group’s, or population’s) identity and sense of competence and have particular meaning and value to that client” (AOTA, 2014, p S5). Occupations have a unique purpose and meaning for each individual, are influenced by multiple contexts, and include ways to occupy time. Occupations can be described as a mix of…”doing, being, belonging, and becoming” (Wilcox, 2014, p. 4). Occupations enable the person to fulfill his/her role and meaning in life, and can influence an individual’s health and sense of wellbeing. Occupational therapy is concerned with promoting engagement and facilitating performance in occupations of individuals, groups, organizations, and populations.

 Occupational therapists “use their knowledge of the transactional relationship among the person, his or her engagement in valuable occupations, and the context to design occupation-based intervention plans that facilitate change or growth in client factors…and skills needed for successful participation” (AOTA, 2014. p. S1). The occupational therapy process is client centered, and the relationship between the client and the occupational therapist is collaborative and dynamic. The occupational therapist recognizes that significant others are frequently part of this relationship. The process of occupational therapy requires critical reasoning skills, creativity, abstract thinking, capacity for empathy, and an understanding of multiple stakeholders’ perspectives.

Teaching/Learning Philosophy

The entry-level occupational therapy programs within the School of Occupational Therapy provide an organized curriculum that assists students in developing the attitudes, values, knowledge, and skills necessary for successful practice. The occupational therapy student as learner possesses prerequisite knowledge and skills that provide a supportive framework for the acquisition of new understandings related to human occupational performance. The curriculum systematically builds on this foundational knowledge by developing each student’s ability to integrate, synthesize, and analyze increasingly difficult information, thus matching the critical reasoning process used by occupational therapists.

With faculty as partners in the teaching-learning process, students undergo transformation via self-reflection, constructive feedback, and active learning experiences to become self-directed learners. This transformation facilitates the recognition of the need for lifelong learning. Self-directed learning, or self-authorship (Magolda, 2002), is accomplished through engagement in a process of self-evaluation of personal and professional performance. Self-reflection provides for understanding of individual learning styles and identifying learning needs. As a result of self-evaluation, students engage in a continual process of identifying and participating in opportunities for growth and lifelong learning, and are thus empowered to take control of the learning process.

Faculty assume the role of providing teaching and learning experiences to facilitate transformative learning and self-responsibility. Faculty understand the importance of building relationships with their students, and assume the responsibility for modeling those cooperative and collegial behaviors required for professional practice. Faculty thus engage with students in collaborative partnerships to create a supportive framework for the construction of new knowledge.


American Occupational Therapy Association (2014). Occupational Therapy Practice

Framework: Domain and Process (3rd ed.), American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(Suppl.), S1-S48.

Magolda, M.B.B. (January-February, 2002). Helping students make their way to adulthood: Good company for the journey. About Campus, pp. 2-9.

Pierce, D. (2003). Occupation by Design:  Building Therapeutic Power. F.A. Davis, Co., Philadelphia, PA.

Wilcock, A. (2014).  Reflections from the JOS. Journal of Occupational Science, 21 (1), 3-5. doi: 10.1080/14427591.2014.878200.

Wilcock, A. (2007).  Occupation and health:  Are they one and the same?  Journal of Occupational Science, 14 (1), 3-8.