Author

Wheelock

Date of Award

6-1996

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Occupational Therapy

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

While empowerment is a dominant concern in mental health care, services often reflect the inadequate use of an empowerment-based frame of reference. This study seeks to enlarge the understanding of empowerment so that more effective services can be established.

Using naturalistic inquiry methodology, this study explores the lived experience of empowerment through direct dialogue with both mental health consumer advocates and mental health occupational therapists. Data were collected and evaluated using a hermeneutic dialectic process. A series of three interviews were done with six respondents.

Analysis of the interviews revealed striking contrasts between the therapists' and advocates' perspectives in relation to empowerment and disempowerment. Both groups described a strong connection between disempowerment, empowerment, and power. The consumer advocates referred to power and the loss of power frequently. Both they and the occupational therapists described disempowerment first, and then used disempowerment to frame and contextualize empowerment. Empowerment and disempowerment are described by both groups as complex processes involving the interaction of a number of elements.

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