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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337


ALERS, Vivyan. The 20th Vona du Toit Memorial Lecture 2007: Proposing the social atom of occupational therapy: Dealing with trauma as part of an integrated inclusive intervention. S. Afr. j. occup. ther. [online]. 2008, vol.38, n.3, pp.3-10. ISSN 2310-3833.

Occupational therapy today needs to re-position itself in context to be relevant to the traumatised psyche of the South African nation. The social atom of the profession needs to relate more congruently to groups, communities and populations. Addressing the secondary causal issues underlying impairment, means our practice will increasingly become multi-modal, using experience and theory from medical, social, environmental, phenomenological and ethnographic models. Occupational therapy in South Africa needs to take the imperative of contextual relevance forward by attending to the traumatic subtexts of practice. Four propositions are suggested. 1. Inclusive, holistic practice applies to both individuals and collectives. 2. Occupational therapy is located in a social atom that enables it to be a significant role-player for social change. 3. The social atom of occupational therapy paves the way for working with the traumatised individuals and communities. 4. Service providers should manage vicarious traumatisation proactively. My hope is that these four propositions will galvanise debate about the contribution of occupational therapy to the healing of a society traumatised by violence and other forms of oppression and abuse.

Keywords : Creative participation; Social Atom; Sensory integration; Trauma survivors; Compassion fatigue.

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