What is it about?

Over the last years, the mental health curriculum for occupational therapy students in Oslo and Trondheim, Norway, has included parts of Taylor's IRM textbook (2008) and a workshop concerned with therapeutic use of self. This study investigated changes in students' self-efficacy for using self in client-therapist interactions during the three-months period following the workshop.

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Why is it important?

Students need to learn the skills necessary for good practice, and need to develop self-efficacy for performing such skills. The study is important because it adds to our knowledge about self-efficacy development in occupational therapy students, and student characteristics associated with their development.


All students increased their self-efficacy in all three areas: self-efficacy for therapeutic mode use, self-efficacy for recognizing clients' interpersonal characteristics, and self-efficacy for managing the interpersonal events of therapy. This is quite uplifting. Three months is not long, but it appears that significant changes may occur during such a brief period of time. During the follow-up period, the students from Oslo were in practice placement, while the students from Trondheim received campus-based teaching. The increase in self-efficacy was similar for the two groups of students. Thus, university-based teaching and practice placement may incorporate some of the same self-efficacy building mechanisms. According to Bandura (1997), these are mastery experiences (being successful in doing things), verbal persuation (others telling you that you can do it), social modeling (others showing you how they do it), and physiological and emotional arousal (for example, the feeling you get when you succeed in doing things). These mechanisms may be - and should be - part of the students' experience, regardless of the type of course (practice-based or theory-based) they receive. Older students of occupational therapy have been shown to receive better academic grades than younger ones. Being older was also associated with better outcomes in this study: While all students increased their self-efficacy for therapeutic use of self, the older students increased their self-efficacy more. Thus, it appears that the mature students are twice blessed: Compared to younger students, they often have a better starting point, and they seem to benefit more from the educational activities they take part in. Age, and the accompanying life experience, is clearly a resource for getting the most out of occupational therapy education.

Professor Tore Bonsaksen
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Short-term changes in occupational therapy students’ self-efficacy for therapeutic use of self, British Journal of Occupational Therapy, January 2018, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0308022617745007.
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