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Medical Model vs Holistic Approaches Presentation:

On July 9th Vironica and I did a presentation in second life about using the medical model in the treatment of clients versus a holistic client centered approach to treatment. The presentation was titled “You’re Not Just a Diagnosis: Medical Model vs. Holistic Approaches”. To prepare for this presentation we conducted research on the medical model and also on holistic approaches to determine where occupational therapy fit and how these approaches affect clients. After the research was complete a power point was designed and uploaded into SL along with several images to accompany the information. The presentation was given in text and contained information and also discussion questions to engage the audience and allow them to share their personal experiences and opinions.


Occupational therapists focus a lot on being client centered and looking at how an illness or diagnosis affects the entire person and all aspects of their being including physical, mental, and social well being. Occupational therapists strive to work with the client to engage them in therapy and focus on what is important and meaningful to them.

The audience really seemed to enjoy the topic and got very involved in discussion. They asked numerous questions and got very involved in talking about their personal experiences and thoughts about the medical model and holistic approaches. During this presentation I learned a lot from the audience as they asked questions, shared stories and provided us with their own personal information about the medical model and holistic approaches.

Something that really surprised me during the presentation was that many people indicated that their doctor and other medical professionals use a medical model in treatment and that they do not enjoy this approach to their healthcare. Although the audience indicated that they did not like the medical model, they did not realize that there are other options. Based on the responses from the audience many of them did not know about any other form of treatment and did not know that they had a right to be more involved in their healthcare plan. The audience were very interested and excited to learn about client centered treatment and holistic approaches because this is the form of treatment that they would prefer. It was also very surprising that several of the audience members did not know how to change doctors or do research on doctors to find one that they are more compatible with. It is very important to find a doctor that you get along with and who understands what you need from treatment. Many of the individuals who attended our presentation were unaware that you could find doctor ratings and conduct some self guided research to find a doctor who will better suit their needs. Finally, it was also surprising that several audience members had a poor opinion of healthcare professionals, specifically doctors. There were several negative comments made about doctors and their treatment of clients. I feel that this is something healthcare professionals need to work on. By being more client centered and holistic there will be a more positive view of healthcare and healthcare professionals.


While most of the audience was in agreement that a holistic approach is more desirable, there was also an agreement that the medical model is necessary in some cases and should be used in addition to holistic treatment. The medical model is good for explaining diagnosis and diseases to patients and providing them with the general knowledge they need about their health conditions. The audience really helped me understand that while they generally prefer a client centered form of treatment, the medical model is also important to utilize in treatment.

Based on all of the above and everything I learned from researching this topic and talking with the audience, I realized how important it is to talk to your client and get to know them personally, especially what they want from treatment and how they want their treatment sessions to continue. As an occupational therapist I need to make sure that I take all of this into consideration when working with a new client. I need to use a combination of the medical model and a client centered approach when working with clients to ensure that they are getting the best possible treatment and are satisfied with the services.

Some thoughts about Second Life:

When I started school at Thomas Jefferson University I decided to take on a Graduate Assistantship (GA) position (an on-campus job working for the faculty in the occupational therapy department). I had envisioned doing research about occupational therapy (OT), helping teachers with paperwork, or even going out in the field and working with clients. I did not however, think I would be signing up for Second Life (SL).

When I found out that my GA position would be designed around promoting OT in SL I was very confused and a little scared. I am not the most computer savvy person and do not play video games or computer games. I had no idea what this GA position would entail and I was very confused about what the purpose of all of this was.

When I first logged on to SL I thought it was really weird. There were people walking around, weird cities and towns, shopping malls, fantasy worlds, and tons of places to go. I had no idea how to walk, let alone talk to people, teleport, or fly! It took me a long time to learn how to navigate in SL and even longer to learn how to build things and be comfortable walking around and talking to random people.

After I got logged in, set up my avatar, and became more comfortable using SL the assignments and presentations began. One of the main jobs that I have, along with the other GA’s, is to design presentations on interesting OT topics that are relatable  and education for the general SL public. We write a script, design a power point with graphics, and create interactive elements for the presentation. I really enjoyed creating the script and power point for my first presentation, but I had no idea what to expect while I was actually presenting.

I was nervous to talk to other people (it seems weird to be nervous because they can’t even see who I am in real life, I am typing on a computer!) and to present my information. When the audience challenged something I said or asked a question I had no idea how to react and respond. I was very upset by the fact that the audience members would talk at random times throughout the presentation or ask questions while I was talking. It was very different from a real life presentation where everybody sits in silence and waits to ask questions until the very end. I ended this first presentation and was a little upset and also kind of stressed out.

And I still didn’t understand the purpose of talking to these people about OT in SL.

Now that I have been working on the GA for a little over a year and have designed and led multiple presentations with the other GA’s, I am very comfortable presenting and understand the social dynamics of the SL world. I no longer worry about people interrupting me and I have gotten very comfortable answering difficult questions and handling differences in opinion.

I now see the importance of giving these presentations and developing educational exhibits for SL. There are so many people who use SL and do not know anything about OT or about common medical conditions. The exhibits and presentations we design for SL are fun and relaxed ways that the general public can learn some facts about health conditions and OT that they may not learn otherwise. Many people who use SL have a disability themselves and are very interested in learning more about what an OT has to offer. I was unaware of how much this may actually mean to someone and how the small amount of information we are providing them could impact their lives. Even though only a small number of people attend these presentations (typically about 10-20 guests attend) if I can give helpful information to just one person who may not have any other way to access that information, then there is a purpose to what I am doing.

While it did take me a long time to realize how beneficial my work in SL is, I now understand that I am helping to educate the general population in SL about what occupational therapy has to offer. I am not only helping to educate people for their benefit, I am also promoting the field of OT and showing the SL world how much OT’s have to offer them.

My First Time at AOTA:

My AOTA Experience:

I attended my very first AOTA conference this past year in Philadelphia PA. I was very excited to attend, listen to presentations, and explore the expo (and get tons of free OT stuff). I went to the conference for 3 days and it was very exciting but also long tiring days. I was amazed by how many OT’s there were all in one room. It was crazy to see so many people all with the same career and passion. It was even crazier to see them out walking the city streets!

Susan Toth Cohen (my GA faculty advisor) was doing a poster presentation at conference and she asked me and the other GA’s to attend. I was thrilled to go and spend some time at her presentation and maybe even get to talk to some people.

I had no idea I would end up “presenting”.

I arrived at the poster and soon found myself standing there with the other GA’s with a crowd of people in front of us asking question after question. People were very interested in what we had to say and many of the OT’s who came to look at the poster had used SL or had heard of it before. They were really interested to hear about what we are doing in SL and about the presentations we have been giving. By the end of the short poster session I was so tired of talking and hearing myself talk!

I am really glad I got to be a part of the poster presentation. It was my first AOTA conference and to get the opportunity to stand at a poster and talk to people was an amazing opportunity. I got to meet so many other occupational therapists and talk to them about what I have been working on in SL. I am also a rather shy person and speaking in public is not one of my strong areas. I had to overcome this fear very quickly in order to be able to interact comfortably with the people visiting the poster.

This experience helped me grow as a student and as an upcoming occupational therapist.

Early Intervention for Children Presentation:

On November 6th Vironica and I did a presentation about early intervention services for children. Early intervention is for children under the age of 3 who have a developmental delay or a medical diagnosis and qualify for these services. We conducted research on the topic and also gained some insight from faculty at Thomas Jefferson University who work in early intervention.

While the audience at the presentation was a little sparse, one audience member really contributed positively to the conversation. She had experience with early intervention services and shared a lot of personal and interesting stories about her experience with early intervention. It was great to hear about early intervention from the viewpoint of a consumer and not a therapist. This particular audience member had a lot to contribute and while we were intending to teach the audience about early intervention, hearing her stories also taught us about how these services are received by the families of children with disorders and developmental delays.

Some things that we learned from giving this presentation and interacting with the audience is that while the early intervention services were very beneficial and improvements were made with the child, some aspects can still be improved upon such as transition services. Transition services begin when the child is 3 and early intervention services are coming to an end. Based on the experience of the audience, the opinion was that therapists and early intervention workers need to advocate more for the family and help them gain access services for the child once they no longer receive early intervention. The therapists also need to provide more resources for the family to make this transition process easier for the family. This is one area in particular that can be improved on by those who work in the early intervention field.

While this presentation did not have the desired turnout, it was still very beneficial and education for both the audience and presenters.

Women and Girls with Disabilities Presentation

We recently did a presentation about women and girls with disabilities. The presentation focused on the unique experiences of women and girls with disabilities, including gender-based stigmas and discrimination. This was a really interesting presentation and the audience had a lot of personal stories and opinions.

Before conducting this presentation we did some research about the experiences of women with disabilities and about hardships that they encounter. I had personally never really thought about the experiences and issues of women with disabilities as being any different than men with disabilities but it turns out that women do have different experiences. There were many websites with statistics and information about the numbers of women with disabilities who experience emotional issues, decreased self esteem, and abuse. It was also alarming to see how many women are not able to access adequate healthcare or receive health care services because of a disability. I was not aware that it was a common issue for women with disabilities to have decreased access to healthcare and services because they are some of the people who need good healthcare the most.

The audience at this particular presentation was also very interested in the topic and consisted of mostly women who wanted to share their stories and talk to one another about their experiences. I was great as a presenter to get to hear all of the experiences of these women, many who have had similar problems.  There was a lot of discussion about issues that women with disabilities face and how it differs from the general issues that all women and girls face in today’s society such as self esteem, pressure to be attractive, and a fear of standing out.

This presentation really opened my eyes as an upcoming therapist. I had not noticed the pressure women with disabilities experience that are different from those of men (not to say that men do not have their own unique experiences and hardships-they do too!). Women are at a higher risk of depression, experiencing social isolation, having low self esteem, and being mentally and physically abused by others. It is important for doctors, therapists, and health care workers to understand the demands our society places on these women and to ensure that they received adequate health care and assistance.

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