April is Occupational Therapy month and I love being an OT, but I am often asked “what is occupational therapy?” On my Facebook page I wrote:
“Occupational Therapy is one of the first mind-body professions that understands the intrinsic value of activities in human life for health and rehabilitation. We look at the science of participation and doing, whether that occurs with personal health skills, or play, or even work. Most of the time people use their hands for “doing,” so you often see occupational therapists working with the upper extremity in rehabilitation. But my occupational therapy coursework focused 50% on physical issues and 50% on psychology. My Occupational Therapy private practice offers a therapeutic bridge between physical therapy and psychology and my training makes me ideally suited for teaching wellness skills so you can enjoy life to it’s fullest throughout your lifespan.”
Yesterday I went to a conference titled ‘Integrative Modalities for Treating the Neck and Shoulder.’ It was a manual therapy/myofascial release/bodywork type conference. Beside learning great new techniques, the bonus is you get to practice those techniques on a partner and you get to be “practiced” on. My chronic pain is in my left shoulder and neck. I had a broken left clavicle 30 years ago that still aches and I got some great releases yesterday.
When I was almost three years old, my little brother was one and just learning to walk. It was summer and there was a family party at our newly built house. We were on the deck but it didn’t have rails and my little brother was toddling towards the edge. I noticed and instead of pulling him back from the edge, I pushed him over it. I didn’t want a baby brother taking my parents attention but the minute he started crying I felt a horrible sense of betrayal and guilt. He fractured his clavicle and had to go to the hospital. The party broke up, the hospital questioned whether there was child abuse going on, and it was all because of me and my jealous action. Even at that tender young age, I knew that I had done something terribly wrong with potential repercussions that would have been devastating – what if my mom went to jail for an action I did but they believed she had done it, what if my brother had died how could I live with myself for that …
All these fragments were floating in my mind while I was in the hot tub this morning and then it dawned on … was I punishing myself by holding on to the pain from my own old clavicle break because of what happened when I was 3? Did all those bodywork releases I received yesterday help to bring this back up into my consciousness so I can begin to forgive myself and let go of the old shame and pain?
There is an amazing mind-body connection and I’m so proud that my profession honors and embraces that. All these fragments are coming together so I can integrate them and enjoy life to it’s fullest throughout my lifespan. Do you want to let go of past pain too? Consider a bodywork session and happy Occupational Therapy month!