Program Philosophy

Occupational Therapy is a rehabilitation profession, which can be characterized by the models of rehabilitation science articulated by the American Occupational Therapy Association (Moyers & Dale, 2007), the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (2001), and the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research of the National Institutes of Health. The major goal of Occupational Therapy, as defined by the scope of practice, is to optimize occupational performance within the client’s roles, contexts, and environments (AOTA, 2014). Occupational Therapists focus on improving performance in all areas of occupation to facilitate health and promote growth, change, and/or adaptation. The ultimate goal of this focus is the achievement of health, well-being, and participation in life through engagement in occupation (AOTA, 2014). We envision that effective intervention delivered through meaningful occupations must take into account multiple levels of functioning, as reflected by the models of rehabilitation science cited above. This document reflects the philosophical foundation of our professional occupational therapy program, which serves as the basis for our current curriculum design.

A View of Humanity

The University at Florida Occupational Therapy professional program is based on the philosophical belief that people have a need and right to participate in occupations. Occupations are activities that have meaning and value for the daily lives of individuals, families, groups, communities and populations. Participation in meaningful occupations is viewed as a determinant of health and wellbeing (AOTA, 2011; AOTA, 2014).

Occupational performance evolves in response to the interaction of the person, occupation and context or environment. Occupations vary according to life roles which have a developmental perspective, and may change over the course of a lifetime. Each role has its associated developmentally-appropriate and role-appropriate tasks that influence the nature of one’s occupations. Human learning occurs via the dynamic interaction between a person and a task in the context of the relevant environment. Occupational therapy strives to facilitate this process through active collaboration between the client and the therapist.

Occupation may be used to prevent or mediate the effects of disability and to facilitate independence and maximum adaptation (AOTA, 2011). When individuals are threatened by stress, deprivation, disease, illness or injury, occupational therapy interventions address (1) the individual’s physical, psychological, and social capacities to achieve occupational competence, (2) the skills and habits of effective role performance and (3) environmental modification to support participation.

Educational Philosophy

The professional program fosters culturally sensitive and evidence based clinical competence through the learner’s active engagement in a collaborative process (student, client and educator) that builds on prior knowledge and experience. Learners integrate professional development, academic knowledge, active learning, clinical reasoning, and self-reflection through experiences in and beyond the classroom (AOTA, 2015). The promotion of lifelong learning, collaboration and professional judgement supports continual contributions to critical inquiry in evidence-based practice. The program facilitates integration of philosophical, theoretical and practical knowledge, values, beliefs, ethics, and technical skills for broad application toward engagement in occupation to improve health, participation and quality of life.


Ameri­can Occupational Therapy Association. (2014). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process (3rd ed.). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(Suppl.1), S1-S48.

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2011). Philosophical base of occupational therapy. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65 (Suppl.), S65. doi:10.5014/ajot.2011.65S65.

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2015). Philosophy of occupational therapy education. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69, 6913410052p1-6913410052p2. doi:10.5014/ajot.2015.696S17.

Moyers, P. A., & Dale, L. M. (2007). The guide to occupational therapy practice (2nd ed.). Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press.

World Health Organization. (2001). International classification of functioning, disability, and health (ICF). Geneva, Switzerland: Author.