Credentials Display

Chi-Kwan Shea, PhD, OTR/L; Nancy Jackson, MS, OTR/L; Marianna Ayers Sordille, OTD, OTR/L


Background: Occupational therapy services to youth with trauma experiences and mental health challenges may follow unique practice concepts that deserve to be explored and illuminated. The study aimed to explore and identify shared concepts that have been guiding the occupational therapy practice of a community-based program serving the youth population.

Method: The qualitative study analyzed data from transcripts of one-on-one interviews with occupational therapists who serve youth clients in the community-based program. Using a grounded theory qualitative approach, the analysis aimed to highlight unique concepts that the occupational therapists employed in their day-to-day practice with youth who experience trauma and mental health challenges.

Results: Twenty-five interview transcripts were analyzed and four major themes emerged from the analysis: trauma lens, practicing attentive empathy, complex development mindset, and therapeutic unstructured structure.

Discussion: The interview data and emerged themes illuminated three interrelated concepts, which guide the occupational therapy practice of a community-based program serving youth with psychosocial challenges: the therapists’ cultivation of intellectual humility, a sense of shared humanity with their clients, and the skillful accommodation of clients’ personal and environmental contexts to promote engagement in occupation. Fidelity to these concepts during client-led occupational exploration supported youth expressions of positive identity, social connection, and valued occupational competencies, and is an approach worthy of further study.


The authors declare that they have no competing financial, professional, or personal interest that might have influenced the performance or presentation of the work described in this manuscript.