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2019  Keynote Speaker

Wendy Wood 

Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA

The Environment as a Therapeutic Instrument in Occupational Therapy: An Exploration through the Lens of Animal-assisted Interventions

ABSTRACT: Systematic reviews produced by the Evidence-based Practice Project of the American Occupational Therapy Association verify that the research evidence supporting environment-based interventions is strong. But what are environment-based interventions? And what is the relationship of environment-based interventions to occupation-based practices? Are these two evidence-based practices essentially the same thing? If not, then does the presence of one imply that the other is likely operative as well? We will explore the meaning of environment-based interventions and its relationship to occupation-based practices in this lecture. To support this exploration, we will delve into the research literature on animal-assisted interventions, a treatment tool that is growing in popularity in occupational therapy and well beyond. Indeed, a plethora of published studies, reviews, and abstracts over the past five years suggest that occupational therapy practitioners are tapping the therapeutic power of animals to benefit people of nearly all ages, from toddlers to the oldest old. The incorporation of animals in occupational therapy has also been regarded as a promising, nonpharmacologic environment-based intervention. Accordingly, exploring this literature can help to elucidate the meaning of environment-based interventions in occupational therapy more broadly, as well as their precise relationship to occupational therapy’s distinct focus on everyday occupation.