For a very long time I felt like I had to walk into a session carrying my OT bag of tricks. Now, I walk into a session with nothing but myself.
Yesterday I walked into a session totally (and deliberately) unprepared. I knew what the goals were and knew the direction I wanted to move in, but I didn’t know how it would unfold. I knew the what, but didnt know the how. And this is completely ok. In fact, it’s perfect conditions to create flow.
Miss 9 and I decided to go for a walk around her familiar neighbourhood. On this walk I decided to incorporate mindfulness activities into it – naming things she could see, smell, hear and feel. It then extended into our own made up activity of ‘notice things you’ve never noticed before’. She noticed for the first time that many of the properties that we passed were growing lavender; her favourite flower. We broadened her sensory experiences by picking fresh flowers and breathing in the beautiful aromas. We balanced on beams, we talked, we laughed.
The old me would have thought – well anyone could go for a walk around the block, pick a couple of flowers and call it “therapy”. So what is it that makes this different?
The difference lies in the profound subtleties.
To the untrained eye this would just look like any ordinary walk.
But to me this was….
– calming the nervous system and bringing it back to a parasympathetic state through engaging in mindfulness nature based occupations
– activating the sensory systems (including the undervalued and overlooked olfactory system) to support participation in a broader range of daily occupations
– building social skills through a safe relationship with the specific use of my body gestures, facial expression, language and tone of voice
– encouraging engagement through deliberate use of questions and timely pauses
And the simple fact that I knew had the skills and the training to be curious without judgement and hold space for any emotions that surfaced.
I’ve learnt that, the gold lies in the therapeutic relationship.
In the awareness we bring.
The empathy in our hearts.
Our ability to co-regulate.
And our willingness to see life through their lens.
This is what makes us a therapist.
Not the material tools in our toolbox.
We are the toolbox. x