Occupational Therapy At The Clubhouse


Occupational Therapy has long been a service for people with mental health challenges. To that end, Seacoast Pathways Clubhouse has a working partnership with the College of Health and Human Services at the University of New Hampshire that began in 2018. The Clubhouse has been a training ground for OT interns and it has made a significant difference in our program.

To many, Occupational Therapy holds a mysterious quality. Indeed, one of the first things asked by Clubhouse staff upon the arrival of interns was, "just exactly what is occupational therapy?" We were relieved to learn that it's pretty simple. For our purposes at the Clubhouse, occupational therapy assists our members with any aspects in their lives where they desire improvement. It may be learning how to better adhere to a medication regimen. It could be learning to shop for food more economically and/or with healthy objectives. Maybe it's finding better solutions for managing time or developing better sleep patterns. Or, it could be learning new cognitive approaches to better behavior or learning skills. There doesn't seem to be any end to what occupational therapy can accomplish.

The OT interns operate in two ways at our Clubhouse. One is working with individuals or small groups and the other is helping the entire Clubhouse become a smoother operation.

A prominent feature of Clubhouses is the use of whiteboards. Walk into any Clubhouse such as ours and it's the first thing you notice. White boards are hung prominently in all the units. They are there to help us organize our work and activities. Sounds good, but staff had been struggling with how to find the best usage of these whiteboards and often changed how they were using them. Our first OT intern made that one of her first priorities and we all feel a little more organized. 

It's not just physical features. Our current intern recently delivered a workshop on "cognitive distortions," in which she demonstrated the various ways our minds tend to overly focus on unwanted or unrealistic thoughts. Our third intern often delivered soothing meditations in the middle of the day to provide a healthy mindful break.

The OT interns have added an important element of structure in our Clubhouse, making it easier for staff to concentrate on their most important mission - engaging members with work and activities in a side-by-side fashion. We're very grateful for UNH and thier OT interns!

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