1. What is the Holistic Occupational Therapy Community?

The Holistic Occupational Therapy Community is a group of occupational therapists who have come together, beginning in 2012, interested in or practicing OT with Complementary and Integrative Health, Wellness, and Prevention. It was born out of the need for OTs to network, support, and provide education to each other to expand interventions known as Complementary Health Approaches and Integrative Health.

Read the Holistic OT Community Mission Statement.

In recent years, research has continued to pour in demonstrating the efficacy of what have formerly been known as Complementary/Alternative Medicine (CAM). Much of what has been considered alternative is not so alternative anymore, and CAM has become an outdated term. They may now be referred to as Complementary Health Approaches, Integrative Health, Integrative Medicine, or Holistic Health. These approaches are now being more practiced by health care practitioners in their practices and for self care. Many of these approaches have efficacy-based researching demonstrating improvement with outcomes related to health, prevention disease and illness, and assist individuals with more options for care with recovery and rehabilitation. There is a growing movement among health care professionals embracing these approaches. Occupational Therapists a great profession to embrace and practice these approaches as OT is already a holistic profession that addresses the whole individual – mind, body, and spirit.
Read the article originally published in ADVANCE Magazine for OT Practitioners “Holistic Occupational Therapy: Complementary and Alternative Medicine is an Emerging Specialty Practice Area in the Profession” by Emmy Vadnais, OTR/L and Mandy Lubas, OTR/L, AWC, RYT

2. Are complementary health approaches and integrative health, wellness & prevention a recognized specialty rea?

Health and Wellness is a key practice area in the occupational therapy profession, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association. Complementary Health Approaches and Integrative Health fall within this category, and many OTs consider themselves to be specialized in Integrative Health.

3. How can I begin integrating complementary and integrative health into my practice?

Read “How to Become a Holistic OT: If You’re Interested in CAM Approaches, Where is the Best Place to Start?” by Emmy Vadnais, OTR/L and Mandy Lubas, OTR/L, RYT in ADVANCE Magazine for OT Practitioners, and consider taking continuing education in these areas.

4. Where can I receive education in complementary and integrative health?

To get started there is an online webinar recording you can download here that provides and intro to “OT with Complementary Health Approaches and Integrative Health (CHAIH)” by the American Occupational Therapy Association. You may want to get clarity on what Integrative Health approaches you would like to be trained in. Talk to other practitioners to understand what approaches can be most helpful in how you want to help your clients. Talk to practitioners who are certified in the approaches you would like training in and find out where they were trained. There are OTs in the Holistic OT Community who also offer Holistic continuing ed courses. Check out the classes offered on this site under Education. If you are seeking to receive continuing education credits for holistic education that are not “approved” by an association you can submit your continuing education as a third party educator. Contact your board for specific requirements. It is likely they will accept them if they are within the scope of enhancing OT practice. Check out many courses taught by Emmy Vadnais, OTR/L in distant, live, and local formats. 

5. Are complementary and integrative health approaches within the scope of OT practice?

Absolutely, yes! There is a current position paper published by AOTA in 2016 “OT with Complementary Health Approaches and Integrative Health” on their website under “Official Documents” that provides guidance on how OTs can use these approaches in their practice. Additionally, if the approaches enhance a person’s life and ability for them to engage in occupations, i.e., Activities of Daily Living – ADL’s they are within the OT scope of practice. Reference Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain & Process 3rd Edition to understand how these approaches you’re using can be used to enhance an individual’s quality of life. Consult with OTs to discover how they use specific approaches in their practice. There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the efficacy of Complementary and Integrative Health approaches. Reviewing research literature can also enhance your understanding of holistic approaches and how they can be integrated in to OT Practice. Review a sample of annotated bibliographies of research studies. 

6. How can I bill or document for complementary and integrative health in OT practice?

Yes, you can. Be clear in your documentation on what intervention was used and what changes it produced in your client, i.e. education in progressive relaxation resulted in decreased physical pain, increased emotional regulation, with reduced worry and anxiety, and how it enhance occupation(s). You may choose to bill under neuromuscular re-education, cognition, ADL’s, or therapeutic activity depending on your focus of your session and the client’s overall goals. If for some reason, these services are denied contact the insurance company and educate them on these skilled services. They may not be as familiar with some of the terms and you will help them better understand these approaches and their therapeutic effects. You can view the Documentation and Billing OT and Integrative Health video. Become a full member for more help and support.

7. Where can I find members of the Holistic Occupational Community?

Search this site in the Directory to find Occupational Therapists who have received extra training in Holistic Approaches such as Yoga, Meditation, Nutrition, Guided Imagery, Energy Healing, Bodywork – Massage Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, Acupressure, Reflexology, and other techniques that can assist you or a loved one. If you are an OT practitioner, student OT, or retired OT you are welcome to join the Holistic Occupational Therapy Facebook group and the Holistic OT email list and become a basic member. Become a full member here.

8. Can I get certified as an OT specializing in complementary and integrative health?

At this point in time, there is no specific certification, but it is within the OT Scope of Practice to provide certain Complementary and Integrative Health Approaches. That is up to each individual therapist to ethically determine their training and comfort level with Complementary and Integrative Health approaches. It is recommended that you have received certification in at least one Complementary and Integrative Health approach and have been practicing it for three months to become a full member of the Holistic Occupational Community.

9. How can I start my own private practice or incorporate integrative health in my current job providing integrative health as an OT?

What is your dream of how you would like to serve people with Complementary and Integrative Health? Create a vision and mission statement of who you want to serve and how you want to help them. Consider seeking guidance from other members of the Holistic OT Community who have a successful practice and who offer consulting and professional guidance. Consider taking the Holistic Practice Class 3-hour recording. Emmy Vadnais, OTR/L offers Holistic Health Practice Consulting and Mentoring here. 

10. How can serve as a Health Coach in OT practice?

Occupational therapists do not need a health coach certification to use coaching as a tool in OT practice in the U.S. as it is identified as a role OTs can serve in, according to the OT Practice Framework 4. However, many OTs need support with improving their skills and confidence using coaching in their OT practice. Learn more with the class OT and Coaching: Skills and Confidence for OTs as the Original Life Coach.

11. How can I receive support in Holistic Occupational Therapy?

Become a Free Member of the Holistic OT Community by joining the e-mail list to receive upcoming Holistic OT news and info or become a full member. ‘Like’ the Holistic Occupational Therapy Facebook Page and if you are an Occupational Therapist, COTA, OT Student or retired OT, ask to join the Holistic Occupational Therapy Group on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to interact more closely with other practitioners. Join as a Full Holistic OT member and receive access to all of the Holistic OT Conversations. Read the current and archived Holistic OT articles on ADVANCE Magazine for Occupational Therapy Practitioners under “Perspectives” here.

11. Would you like specific guidance with expanding and practicing holistic care in your life and your clients’ lives?

Contact Emmy Vadnais, OTR/L and go here to learn more about receiving support with Holistic Health Practice Consulting and Mentoring.

12. Not seeing your question here?

Become a Free Member of the Holistic OT Community by joining the e-mail list to receive upcoming Holistic OT news and info. Listen to the Holistic OT Conversations and Healing Connections Podcasts, and follow, Holistic Occupational Therapy on social media via Facebook Page, Facebook Group, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Contact Emmy Vadnais, OTR/L for a consultation session to assist you.

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