Admission EssayI understand that relating to clients is important if one has to become a good occupational therapist. I have studied the six modes of intentional relationship as outlined by Taylor (2008), and realized that while I rate excellently on most of these modes, there is one that I am not very comfortable with. This mode is Empathizing. This suggests the ability to bear witness to and understand the psychological, physical, interpersonal and emotional experience of the client. It is the ability to stand in the shoes of the clients to understand what they are feeling. Occupational therapy has as one of its fundamental beliefs that, positive, empathetic relationships are critical to providing holistic care.
Over time, I have realized that I am not such am the empathetic person. Most of those I have come into contact with, growing up, have commented about this. I have also realized the same while interacting with my peers and clients. Naturally, I find it hard to hide details even when they might be hurting. I also tend to confront situations directly as they are, instead of twisting them to avoid hurting people’s feelings. For instance, during an encounter with a patient who was suffering emotional outbursts I came directly to the client asking to explain why he was behaving the way he was. I failed to understand that the client was also at a loss because of his actions, and all he required was my assistance to figure out the problem was and the way to go about addressing it. Although I was able to get through to the client and assist, this became a turning point in my understanding that I am not very comfortable with empathizing.
I have also come to the understanding that in my training, this is one area that I have not been keen at addressing. Through group work, I realized that I could work with my peers, but there are some cases where I was very poor in understanding diversity. I have found it hard to understand why some people act in a different way that I do. I have always believed that there is no excuse for “weakness” as I have considered some actions and behaviors of those I have come into contact with. With time, I have realized that the problem is not the others, but the problem is with me. I have failed in the understanding that people are not and cannot be the same. I have also failed in understanding that it is up to me to understand and respect the differences.
Understanding that empathy is critical for an occupational therapist to be able to create the necessary rapport with the client, I understand that my lack in this attribute will have effects on my career. I know that without empathy I cannot successfully understand my clients to provide them the kind of help and support they require. Without empathy, I know that it is impossible to work, not only with my clients but also with my colleagues. It is not possible to reach out to the clients with a caring attitude or trust in the ability of the client to find a solution to the problem affecting them. Occupational therapy is not simply about providing answers to the clients, but most important, being able to work with the client to find out what works depending on the situation.
I understand that there is no excuse for failure to understand the client to be able to work with him or her in finding the best way possible to deal with a problem, physical, emotional or psychological. I also understand that without being empathetic I will always fail in providing therapy even before I begin. This is because the positive therapeutic environment is the most crucial element of a successful therapeutic process. I have failed before in this aspect, but I no longer want it to affect my career. Therefore, this is a skill I am willing to learn and develop. The skill might not be inborn, but I have realized that it is possible to develop it. Cultural Anthropology is the most important place to begin. I have to learn the differences in individuals and groups in order to provide targeted help.
I am committed to being a good occupational therapist and this is the reason I am working towards becoming more empathetic. To do this, I will begin engaging in empathic process and apply my capability to detect, feel, imitate and express emotional ability. I have been practicing how to communicate with diverse individuals, verbally and non-verbally. I should say that the most effective way to solving a problem is understanding that the problem exists and working towards the best way possible to deal with it. The most important step I have made in understanding that empathy is simply a creative, imaginative, and imitative process which is not so hard to engage in. I will do these four things: understand the emotional state of the other; use the self as the motivation to change; use language expression; and develop communication competence.
Taylor, R. (2008). The Intentional Relationship: Occupational Therapy and the Use of Self, F.A.Davis Company