2020  Keynote Speaker

Virginia Dickie 


Finding Everyday and Extraordinary Therapy with Occupation

ABSTRACT:  People often regulate the ups and downs of their lives through their occupations.  In an ethnography of contemporary quilt making I found that quilters used aspects of making quilts to give order to their days, deal with stressful situations, and respond to individual needs for challenge and new learning. They also made quilts to deal with extraordinary events and stresses, sometimes at a personal level but also as part of a collective. I describe particular qualities of quilt making that support its use as a sort of self-prescribed therapy and suggest how they might be found in other occupations. Finally, I propose the need to address the question of how people self-regulate: what they do “for themselves,” what occupations help them when they feel bored or stressed, and what helps them to respond to events beyond their control such as natural disasters and epidemics.