Guidance for Contributors

First of all, thank you for your interest in this project. I hope that, together, we can pull together a really useful resource for occupational therapists who want to use board games in their practice.

Please see the information below for suggestions of what to include in your guest post. Click here for an example. If you’ve got other ideas for format, content etc, I’d love to hear them!

Title: Game and Year of Publication

Please include a picture, either a photo you have taken yourself, or a picture from the internet that demonstrates what the game looks like. Remember to credit your source, and include a link.


  1. Game information from BoardGameGeek website using the format below:
    1. Players:
    2. Playing Time:
    3. Weight /5:
    4. Type (this can be found under “Classification”):
    5. Category:
    6. Mechanisms:
  2. Short introduction to the game and how to play it. Please credit other sources, if used

Experience of the Game:

  1. How did you first discover this game? Why did you choose it?
  2. Share your experience of using the game (either in clinical practice or your own life). Be clear about the context you used it in. Include anecdotes if you like, but please protect the anonymity of service users.
  3. Tell us about how you structured it, and any changes you made


  1. What were the benefits of this particular game?
  2. Tell us about any challenges that arose
  3. Share any recommendations for others using this game (e.g. what are different ways you could structure the game? How could you adjust the challenge?


  1. Link to any useful resources you’ve come across, e.g. teaching guides, printable resources from BoardGameGeek, youtube videos, translations etc

Any questions? Let me know!


Timeline: Music and Cinema (2013)

Review by geekyOT

Photo from

Introduction – info taken from

  • Players: 2-8 (best: 4-6)
  • Playing Time: 15 min
  • Weight: 1.11/5
  • Type: family game
  • Category: card game, educational, trivia
  • Mechanisms: N/A

Each card depicts a historical event on both sides, with the year in which that event occurred on only one side. Players take turns placing a card from their hand in a row on the table. After placing the card, the player reveals the date on it. If the card was placed correctly with the date in chronological order with all other cards on the table, the card stays in place; otherwise the card is removed from play and the player takes another card from the deck. The first player to get rid of all his cards by placing them correctly wins.

Experience of the Game

I first played Timeline: British History (2016) at a board games meetup. We were waiting for another person to arrive before we could start a different game, and someone suggested this as “a great filler” (ie. a game to fill time).

At the time, I was working on a male acute ward in a medium secure unit (forensic mental health). My patients loved music and films, so I decided to play the Music and Cinema version with them during our open ward-based group. It was an instant hit!

Because the rules were so simple, people didn’t have to sit through a long, complicated rules explanation. The game was very inclusive. If a new person showed curiosity, they could just watch, and it was also easy to “deal them in” at any point. Many people were surprised to discover how much they knew. And we had some great conversations about our memories of different songs/films. Because the game involves taking turns in a set order (around in a circle), it was also useful for encouraging turn-taking.

This game was really popular, and patients borrowed it and played it together between groups. They were also able to play different versions of the game (e.g. Inventions and Discoveries) without needing to learn new rules.

I didn’t make any changes to the game or rules per se, but I did encourage lots of discussion and interaction between turns, perhaps more so than you would if you were playing the game at home.


This game was great for:

  • Engaging people who would otherwise not come to the group. People would become curious and either join in conversations, or join the game itself
  • Starting quickly, with minimal set-up and rule explanation
  • Sparking discussions and reminiscence
  • Using pictures alongside writing. This reduced barriers (e.g. for those who weren’t able to read), although the pictures weren’t always that clear. There’s not a lot of writing on the cards, but the text is relatively small.
  • Getting a hold of. It was cheap compared to other games (£14) and I was able to find it both on Amazon and in board game shops. That said, it seems to be out of stock right now.

Challenges that arose:

  • The cards are small and can be a bit fiddly to pick up


  • Game length can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing number of cards per person
  • This game could be played in teams
  • Challenge/novelty can be increased by combining cards from different Timeline games
  • Suggested strategy for people new to the game: start with cards where you are less sure of the answer. The more cards in the timeline, the more difficult it becomes


Have you tried this game? Share your experience and reflections in the comments below!

Nise: the Heart of Madness (2016), an Interview with Roberto Berliner

A little over a year ago, I stumbled across a Brazilian film on Netflix called ‘Nise: the Heart of Madness’ (or ‘Nise: O Coração da Loucura’). It is based on the true story of Dr Nise da Silveira, a Brazillian psychiatrist who founded the occupational therapy department at Brazil’s National Psychiatric Centre. The film has won four awards, including Best Film Award at the 2015 Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival.

Roberto Berliner, who directed the film and wrote the screenplay, is also known for Herbert de Perto (2009) and Born to be Blind (2003). I caught up with Berliner, and asked him a few questions.

What can you remember about the first time you heard about Dr Nise da Silveira?

My first contact with Dr. Nise da Silveira was in the 1980’s at Circo Voador, a cultural center in Rio de Janeiro, at an event called “The Doctor’s Tea”, where she would show up once a month with her friends. The project of the film started much later, with the writings of journalist Bernardo Horta, who was Nise’s student and brother of Andre Horta, the film’s director of photography. Bernardo followed Nise closely for years when he was a part of the C.G. Jung study group, that used to happen at Nise’s house. He liked to observe her and take notes, not only of the things she said but also how she behaved. It was through those notes that I got to know Nise’s intimate moments.

You committed numerous years to telling this part of Nise’s story, and overcame many obstacles. What inspired you to make this movie?

Nise is one of those people that pushes the human race forward. She is a special person, a rebel, and the more I researched her life and talked to her collaborators, the more I knew this film had to be made.

In the history of Brazil, there are few women as important as Nise da Silveira. A feminist, a great doctor, a great humanist. A woman who battled against the system, against her status quo and with a very positive job, searched for the affection and understanding of others. She was a warrior. For a person to make a revolution in world history, she had to have a lot of courage, strength and determination. All she wanted was life, art. A woman who was able to perceive her great wealth on the fringes.

Nise had a very special history, so in the beginning I wanted to make a film about her whole life, because it was really rich and she was always going against the current.

As someone who has worked in psychiatric hospitals for many years, I sometimes forget what it is like for people to experience the environment for the first time. You spent time at the hospital that Nise worked at – the former National Psychiatric Center, currently Pedro II Psychiatric Center in Rio de Janeiro – as part of the research for your film. What did you experience and learn while you were there?

After being briefed intimately on the biography of the characters, and seeing the original artworks, the actors and I started the rehearsals in Engenho de Dentro, in the real place where the story took place, getting into the routine and feeling the energy of that place, inside the infirmaries or walking around the hospital. It was as if the artists came back to revisit their own works.

The film is a true story based on real people on the location where it all happened. Not many films have this opportunity. This gave the film an emotional charge that is very strong and positive. We were inside the hospital. In the house of “the crazy ones”, the “schizophrenics”, and the “misfits”. Our film is about them and our relationship was always truthful, respectful and insightful.

On hearing of her new role, Nise’s husband Mario remarks, “There is so much to do in this country, instead of having fun, cheering up the patient. Occupational therapy? Do you know what that is, Nise? Do you?”. This scene captures a common misconception of the occupational therapy role. What research did you and your colleagues do into occupational therapy?

We’ve talked to a lot of people that worked with Nise and with her clients in Engenho de Dentro, such as Martha Pires Ferreira and Almir Malvignier (both are also characters in the film). We also talked to the people who now run the Museum of Images from the Unconscious, Luiz Carlos Mello, Gladys Schincarios, Lula Vanderlei and Gina Ferreira, among others. All of them worked daily with Nise and had lots of stories to tell. We’ve also uncovered the medical charts from the patients who were treated by Nise and lots of notes from Nise and the rest of the staff. This was the basis for the screenplay, which has been through several iterations, with different approaches, and writers.

I first found out about this film because another occupational therapist recommended it in a Facebook group. The comments included: “This film is really inspiring, it has reminded me why I am an Occupational Therapist”, “What a fabulous film” and “What a magnificent film…. going to print some of the final comments out to help keep me grounded…. inspires me to keep strong…”  Is there anything you would like to say to occupational therapists watching your movie?

We need more people like Nise. Her story helps show that there are many ways to be happy in life and competent at work. It is not the position that money brings, nor the glory of art. All of this is fine,  but what made Nise a special person was the chance to give these people the chance to express themselves, to create, and through that artistic production, analyze, study and understand each other’s story. Nise was in the unconscious.

Finally, have you got any recommendations of resources for people who would like to find out more about the life and work of Nise da Silveira?

Here in Rio de Janeiro we have the Museum of Images of the Unconscious (Museu de Imagens do Inconsciente), founded by Nise in 1952.  Its purpose is to preserve all the artworks produced in the ateliers by Nise’s patients.

The Museum is a living center of study and research on the images and has a markedly interdisciplinary character, which allows constant exchange between clinical experience, theoretical knowledge of psychology and psychiatry, cultural anthropology, history, art, education.

The museum is not a past-oriented institution: in its ateliers, visitors create new plastic documents daily and share their experiences in living with employees, animals, students, researchers and visitors. This work allowed the emergence of artists who were soon recognized in the world of the arts. With this, its collection does not stop growing and updating itself.

They have a collection of more than 350 thousand works, the Museum has the largest and most differentiated collection of the genre in the world. It also holds the library and personal archive of its founder, Nise da Silveira, holder of the World Registry in the UNESCO Memory of the World Program.

Berliner’s film is currently available to watch on UK Netflix.

For more information about the occupational therapy profession, visit the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and World Federation of Occupational Therapists websites.

#TheOTShow: Eating sushi, building railroads and surviving the zombie apocalypse: using the new generation of board games in forensic mental health

I was recently approached about presenting at this year’s OT Show in Birmingham. My thoughts immediately darted to a new board games group I was trialling in the medium secure unit where I work. And each time I came up with a different idea, I felt the magnetic pull back to board games.

I’ve often asked myself why the idea of using board games in forensic mental health appeals to me so strongly. Is it because board games encourage you to focus your attention on something outside of yourself? That they provide a vehicle for interaction with others? The challenge or the immediacy of feedback they provide? The clarity of rules? Or because they have the potential to absorb you into a different reality, where you can experiment with different personas or ways of dealing with situations? Board games are awesome for all these reasons and more. And, even though I was an avid board gamer before trialling this group, the benefits of this group – both for assessment, and the outcomes individuals experienced – surprised me.

You can find the abstract for my session below. The presentation will take place on 22nd November 2018 11:15-12:00 at the NEC in Birmingham.

“Eating sushi, building railroads and surviving the zombie apocalypse: using the new generation of board games in forensic mental health”


Board games are experiencing a resurgence in popularity amongst adults – particularly millennials (Graham, 2016) – and the modern selection of games is constantly growing. Board games provide a way to connect with others through a shared activity, and social groups dedicated to board gaming are sprouting up across the world.

With this in mind, the medium secure unit at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust launched a twelve-week structured intervention group using engagement in modern board games both as “means” (intervention – Gray, 1998, pg. 358) and “end” (desired outcome/goal – pg. 357). Playing a different game each week, group participants (‘players’) are introduced to a range of game mechanics and types. Not only does this increase occupational understanding, but it also provides valuable opportunities for players to explore and develop their interests, skills, preferences and self efficacy.

This presentation will provide an overview of the group structure, and will include a case study highlighting outcomes from the intervention. The focus throughout the programme is on translating the occupation out of the group environment and into players’ individual contexts, and the presentation will explore practical ways to do so.

It is anticipated that this session will be of particular interest to clinicians and students working in mental health settings, however it may also be applicable to other clinical areas.


Graham, L (2016) ‘Millenials are driving the board games revival’, CNBC, 22 December [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 14 April 2018)

Gray, J. (1998) ‘Putting occupation into practice: Occupation as ends, occupation as means’, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 52(5), 354-364



CPD Portfolio of an Occupational Therapy Geek

It’s that time in the life cycle of an occupational therapist, where reminders to renew HCPC registration go out and people start anxiously checking their mailbox for a “CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE BEEN RANDOMLY SELECTED FOR AUDIT” letter. And it’s now that people inevitably start thinking more about their continuing professional development (CPD) portfolios – how best to organise them to capture ongoing metamorphosis and what types of learning opportunities “count” as CPD.

In the previous CPD cycle, my lovely zipped folder was full to the brim of paper reflections. They were organised into sections based on the Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF), and I painstakingly cross-referenced them. I was – and still am – very proud of it.

But it was time- and paper-consuming. Not to mention, heavy! Sometimes while at work, I’d want to refer to a reflection, only to remember that it was saved on my home computer. Obviously, this was before I discovered OneDrive/Dropbox.

Fortunately, a friend introduced me to CPDme*, an online CPD portfolio, which has improved my organisation, and means I can add or refer to my reflections and CPD entries quickly and easily. This style of CPD portfolio is much better suited to my lifestyle – I can add to my portfolio whilst on the train.

*Other electronic CPD portfolios exist!


The CPDme dashboard shows me at a glance how up to date my portfolio is and how balanced my learning activities have been. Check out this link from the HCPC website about including a mixture of learning in your CPD.  Looking at the stats below, I realised that there are many CPD activities I haven’t added yet – a useful prompt.


CPDme breaks CPD down into reflective entries (which can be added using one of three models) or diary entries.


There is also a useful function of mapping diary entries against HCPC standards and the KSF.


Of course, there are times when I want a hard copy of my portfolio – for example, to take to job interviews. CPDme (and, I’m sure, other online portfolios) has a print function, where you can select which (if not all) entries to print. It even collates a handy HCPC Summary page for your selected entries.

hcpc summary.png

So there you have it: that’s what my CPD portfolio looks like! It is still a work in progress, but I am happy with my “system”. Of course, that won’t stop me anxiously checking the post each day to see if I have been selected!

5 Things You Should Know About Working with People with Eating Disorders

Having recently started a new role in eating disorders, and with Eating Disorders Awareness Week just around the corner, it seemed like a good time to collect my thoughts about working with people with eating disorders.


The majority of my eating disorders experience has come from working at an eating disorders day service and supporting occupational therapists working on eating disorder units (EDUs). I’ve also worked with people (men and women) with eating disorders who are not under the care of specialist services – for example, in acute inpatient mental health units, learning disability services and residential/supported accommodation.

Here are the top five lessons (in no particular order of importance) that I’ve learned so far while working with people with eating disorders:


1. Subjective experience of occupation matters.

Eating disorders affect every part of a person’s life. New occupations may emerge from the eating disorder, and the meanings of occupations can change (Elliot, 2012). People may feel guilty for engaging in enjoyable, restful or self-nurturing occupations and may avoid occupations or social situations that involve food. They might feel driven to be over-productive. And even though occupational therapists are trained in enabling people to participate in everyday activities/occupations (WFOT, 2012), we are at risk of failing to fully comprehend the challenges or meaning inherent in an individual’s occupations if we don’t take the time to fully explore them.

If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s the importance of understanding every individual’s subjective experience of occupation. A collaborative approach to assessment is vital. Explore with people why they struggle with certain occupations or what motivates them to engage in others (even – or perhaps especially – if you see them as ‘unhealthy’ or ‘maladaptive’). Find out if challenges relate to occupational disposition (how a person feels about engaging in an occupation), occupational understanding (knowledge or understanding of methods or resources relating to an occupation), occupational performance (their ability to actually perform the occupation), or a combination of the three (Park, 2014). Having a thorough understanding of where the challenges lie and why mean you can work with the individual to develop a plan that is meaningful and relevant.

For more information on occupation/occupational therapy in eating disorders, visit the following links:


2. What you say and how you say it matters.

In my experience, you can discuss just about anything with people if you go about it the right way, but it is also very easy to (with the best intentions) say the wrong thing, especially if you are inexperienced or don’t know the person well. If you are new to eating disorders, time spent learning about helpful language is well worth the investment. Trust me.

The articles below are a good starting point, and you can also ask individuals with eating disorders or your colleagues what they think is/isn’t helpful to say. As always, it is important to get to know the individuals you are working with – what is helpful for one person may be unhelpful for another – so open conversations about language/helpful strategies are the way to go.

There’s no shortage of articles on the topic:

One of the most useful approaches I learnt was motivational interviewing. There are many books and YouTube videos on the topic, and you may also be able to find face-to-face training. Visit the following website for an introduction to the skills:

As important as language is, the most important thing is your relationship with someone and your willingness to support them. You may say the wrong thing (we all do!). Someone may prefer for you to be silent, but still want you there with them. Or you may be in a situation where you have run out of things to say, and all you can do is sit with someone. Often, your actions or tone of voice mean more than the words you use.


3. Loved ones matter.

Wherever you can, involve a person’s loved ones in their care. Even something as simple as listening to a loved one’s concerns can make a big difference. Ask who a person has in their life and how they feel about their families, partners and friends being involved in their care. Find out what support is available locally for families, partners and friends and share this information with them.

Here are a few resources:


4. Always hold onto hope.

The theme for this year’s Eating Disorders Awareness Week is ‘Early Intervention’.  I’m really excited about the results of the First Episode and Rapid Early Intervention for Eating Disorder (FREED) trial from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust that showed the benefits of speeding up eating disorders treatment, and can’t wait to see the findings from their new FREED-UP trial.

While early intervention is vitally important, the majority of my experience has been in working with people with severe and enduring eating disorders. Regardless of the severity of someone’s illness, or the extent of their prior contact with mental health services, continue to hold hope that they can get their life back and achieve their goals. Because people can and will surprise you.


5. Make sure you look after yourself. 

Eating disorders are tough. They are tough for individuals, loved ones, and care teams. And it will be tough for you. Everyday can feel like a battle between the person’s eating disorder and healthy self, and the physical risk posed by eating disorders can be frightening for everyone involved. The work requires patience, persistence, resilience and reflection.

There will be times where you feel like you are not good enough. Other times, you will feel strong emotions of anger, sadness, frustration, fear… you name it. You may even find that your own relationship with food is affected.

Working with people with eating disorders, you need to look after yourself. Use supervision and support available to you, including any staff support/supervision groups. And practice what you preach – invest time and effort into your own wellbeing and occupational balance.

For me, working with people with eating disorders has been an incredibly fascinating and rewarding experience. And I hope if you work with people with eating disorders, you will find the same!


Other useful resources:


5 accounts to follow on Twitter:


If you or someone you know are affected by eating disorders, you can contact b-eat (the eating disorders charity) via the following methods:


Telephone: (free, and open 365 days a year, 4pm-10pm)

Adult Helpline: 0808 801 0677

Youthline: 0808 801 0711


Adult (over 18):

Youthline (under 18):

Message Boards


What are the top five things you think people should know about working in the field of eating disorders? Are there any other resources you would recommend? Leave a comment below!

The Hidden Depths of Occupational Therapy in Eating Disorders – LSBU Student Conference

Following on from our presentation at the College of Occupational Therapists Eastern Region ‘Dark Side of Occupational Therapy’ study day, Mary Cowan and I met today to prepare our presentation for the London South Bank University student conference. The theme of the conference is ‘The Power of Occupation: Maintaining Professional Identity in the Face of Change‘ and it will take place at the university on Friday 3rd February 2017. We are very excited about this presentation, as it is on a topic very close to our hearts – occupation focused practice with people with eating disorders. As always, we will be using  metaphor in our presentation. This time, it will be the metaphor of an ice diver.

Click here to download a PDF of the slides

Click here to read tweets from the day


Image from

‘Eating Disorders and Occupational Therapy: the Hidden Depths’

The Step Up to Recovery programme (South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust) is an occupational therapy-led intensive day service for people with long-standing eating disorders. The programme seeks to understand individuals’ subjective experience of their eating disorder and its impact on their everyday life and work with individuals towards their goals.

The service is underpinned by the assumption that “occupation is as necessary to life as food and drink” (Dunton, cited in Mandel et al., 1999, pg. 12) and that it has the power to transform lives. This presentation will explore the impact that eating disorders can have on individuals’ occupational lives, for example creating new occupations, or infusing existing occupations with illness-derived meaning (Elliot, 2012). This will include a discussion of the concept of the dark side of occupation (Twinley, 2013).

Delegates will gain an understanding of some of the challenges in remaining occupation-focused in practice, and consider foundations that enable occupational therapists to stand firm amidst constant change (Molineux, 2011).

Learning Outcomes

* Understand the power of occupation in eating disorders and its impact on health and wellbeing

* Understand the value of exploring the dark side of occupation in eating disorders

* Understand the challenges to remaining occupation-focused in practice and identify strategies to ‘stand firm’


Elliot, M.L. (2012) ‘Figured World of Eating Disorders: Occupations of Illness’, Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 79(1), pp. 15-22. DOI: 10.2182/cjot.2012.79.1.3

Godfrey, N. (unpublished) ‘The Occupational Impact of Anorexia Nervosa: Altered Occupational Meaning, Motivation and Engagement’, MSc Dissertation

Lock, L. and Pepin, G. (2011) ‘Eating Disorders’ in Brown, C. and Stoffel, V. (eds) Occupational Therapy in Mental Health: a Vision for Participation. Philadelphia: FA Davis Co. pp. 123-142

Mandel, D.R., Jackson, J.M., Zemke, R., Nelson, L., Clark, F.A. (1999) Lifestyle Redesign: Implementing the Well Elderly Program. AOTA Press: Maryland

Molineux, M. (2011) ‘Standing Firm on Shifting Sands’, New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58(1), pp. 21-28

Cowan, M. and Sorlie, C. (2016) ‘Exploring the Dark Side of Occupation’ presentation at College of Occupational Therapists Eastern Region ‘Dark Side of Occupational Therapy’ study day, 30th September 2016. Slides available at this link

Turner, A. and Alsop, A. (2015) ‘Unique Core Skills: Exploring Occupational Therapists’ Hidden Assets‘, British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 78(12), pp. 739-749. DOI: 10.1177/0308022615601443

Twinley, R. (2013) ‘The Dark Side of Occupation: a Concept for Consideration’, Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 60(4), pp. 301-303. DOI: 10.1111/1440-1630.12026

Locum Work – Taking the Leap and Defying Gravity

My occupational therapy journey so far has felt like a rollercoaster. It all started with the first ascent into acute inpatient mental health. After a year, I finally felt that the journey had smoothed out. Then came the next big hill – working in eating disorders, followed by another hill as I was promoted to senior occupational therapist and embraced more service development and leadership opportunities.

I truly love working in eating disorders. Although there is a predictable structure to the week, every day holds something different; a perfect combination for someone like me who enjoys structure yet craves stimulation and challenge. My rollercoaster ride has been enriched by each person I have worked with; fascinating, inspirational people who have all brought their own unique struggles and personal qualities to the journey. And I am a better occupational therapist – and person – as a result of knowing them.

My favourite thing about this role (which is advertised on the NHS Jobs website) is that it has given me a precious opportunity to practice in a way that is consistent with my personal and professional values. Step Up is a unique occupational therapy-led service built on the foundations of collaborative working, occupation-focused practice and constant development .

And yet, the time has come for a completely new rollercoaster experience. I’m leaving permanent employment to become a locum (or temporary) occupational therapist. This is an exciting new opportunity for my rollercoaster to connect to new tracks, where I hope to develop new skills and ideas to keep me hurtling forward.

There’s a rollercoaster – the Gravity Max in Taiwan’s Discovery World theme park – which perfectly exemplifies this stage in my occupational therapy journey. On this ’tilt coaster’, the track ahead of you only connects moments before you drop.

And so, as I travel along the final stretch in my current role, staring at the abruptly ending track and wondering what lies ahead, I feel a mixture of sadness, excitement, panic and hope. Just as you do on a rollercoaster, I am embracing the confusing mix of emotions and doing all I can to remain fully present in the moment. In the words of one of my favourite songs from a musical:

“Too late for second-guessing

Too late to go back to sleep

It’s time to trust my instincts

Close my eyes

And leap

It’s time to try defying gravity”

If you are also considering Defying Gravity, contact me on LinkedIn. I’ve learnt that the journey is far more enjoyable (and way less terrifying!) when you’ve got someone in the seat next to you. I may be able to recommend an agency or share some of the knowledge I hope to pick up.

Or, at the very least, I’ll be someone to scream in the seat next to you!

Exploring the Dark Side of Occupation #ERCOT16 #thedarksideofoccupation

My colleague Mary Cowan and I were really excited when Dr Rebecca Twinley for invited us to facilitate a workshop at the College of Occupational Therapists Eastern Region ‘Dark Side of Occupational Therapy’ study day on 30th September 2016. We love any chance to get our OTgeek on, and are very grateful for the opportunity. Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it, but I am looking forward to following the tweets and hearing about the great discussions that will no doubt take place.

Aims of the day:

  • Discuss occupations that are not, for example, health-promoting or health‐giving
  • To appreciate that people do not always do things that are positive and productive
  • To be able to reflect upon your own engagement in the dark side of occupation
  • To be able to discuss the reasons as to why some people engage in the dark side of occupation
  • To consider relevance and application of the concept to education, research, and practice

Exploring the Dark Side of Occupation

Twinley (2013) suggests that there are aspects of occupation “which are less acknowledged, less explored and less understood” (pg. 302). How can we, as occupational therapists, effectively explore the unexplored occupations of individuals? Using the analogy of space exploration, we will share examples and reflections from practice about how to navigate the dark side of occupation without being sucked into a black hole or floating off into space.


View the Prezi

Download a PDF of the Prezi

Read tweets from the study day on Storify

References and Further Reading

Bundy, C. (2004) ‘Changing Behaviour: Using Motivational Interviewing Techniques’, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 97(Supl.44), pp. 43-47

Elliot, M. (2012) ‘Figured World of Eating Disorders: Occupations of Illness’, Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 79(1), pp. 15-22. DOI: 10.2182/cjot.2012.79.1.3

Jones, L. (2010) ‘The Role of the Occupational Therapist in Treating People with Personality Disorders’ in Murphy, N. and McVey, D. (eds) Treating Personality Disorder: Creating Robust Services for People with Complex Mental Health Needs. London: Routledge. pp. 201-219

Moskowitz, C. (2010) FAQs: How Do Astronauts Take Space Walks? Available at: (Accessed: 23 September 2016)

National Careers Service (2016) Astronaut Job Information. Available at: (Accessed:  23 September 2016)

Nordbo, R.H., Espeset, E.M., Gulliksen, K.S., Skaarderud, F. and Holte, A. (2006) ‘The Meaning of Self-Starvation: Qualitative Study of Patients’ Perception of Anorexia Nervosa’, International Journal of Eating Disorders, 39(7), pp. 556-564. DOI: 10.1002/eat.20276

OTalk (2012) Anti-Social Occupations: the ‘Dark Side’ of Occupation. Available at: (Accessed: 30 September 2016)

pd2ot (2012) Self-Defeating Occupation. Available at: (Accessed: 29 September 2016)

pd2ot (2014) Pro-Eating Disorder Websites – a Personal, Occupational Perspective. Available at: (Accessed: 29 September 2016

Simon Phillips, K. (2016) The Great Eating Disorder Bake Off. Available at: (Accessed: 29 September 2016)

Sorlie, C. (2013) Is Boredom More Than an Emotional Response to Lack of Occupation? Available at: (Accessed: 1 October 2016)

Taylor, B. and Davis, S. (2006) ‘Using the Extended PLISSIT Model to Address Sexual Healthcare Needs’, Nursing Standard, 21(11), pp. 35-40

Twinley, R. (2013) ‘The Dark Side of Occupation: a Concept for Consideration’, Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 60(4), pp. 301-303. DOI: 10.1111/1440-1630.12026

Wasmuth, S., Crabtree, J.L. and Scott, P.J. (2014) ‘Exploring Addiction-As-Occupation’, British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 77(12), pp. 605-613. DOI: 10.4276/030802214X14176260335264

‘Occupation Matters in Eating Disorders’ – References for Plymouth University Presentation

Presentation: Sorlie C, Biddle L, Cowan M (2015) ‘Occupation Matters in Eating Disorders’, presentation on 18th March at Plymouth University


Elliot M (2012) ‘Figured World of Eating Disorders: Occupations of Illness‘, Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 79(1), 15-22

Lock L, Pepin G (2010) Eating disorders. In: in Brown C, Stoffel VC, eds. Occupational therapy in mental health: a vision for participation. Philadelphia, PA: FA Davis Company. 123-142

Mandel DR, Jackson JM, Zemke R, Nelson L, Clark FA (1999) Lifestyle redesign: implementing the Well Elderly Programme. Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press

Molineux M (2011) ‘Standing firm on shifting sands‘, New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58(1), 21-28

Park S (2014) ‘Outcome evaluation and documentation process in occupational therapy: occupation-based, client-centered and context-relevant’, Harrison Training.

Pierce D (2001) ‘Occupation by design: Dimensions, therapeutic power, and creative process‘, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 55, 249–259

Pierce D (2003) Occupation by design: building therapeutic power. Philadelphia, PA: FA Davis Company

Sorlie C, Jones C, Stanley K, Rushton H and Gorry G (2013) Levelling the playing field: developing online communities of practice. Poster presentation at: College of Occupational Therapists Annual Conference. 18th-20th June, Glasgow. Available online at:

Twinley, R (2012) ‘The dark side of occupation: a concept for consideration’, Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 60, 301-303

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