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Occupational Therapy International
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 5190901, 9 pages
Research Article

Developing and Sustaining Recovery-Orientation in Mental Health Practice: Experiences of Occupational Therapists

The University of Sydney, Cumberland Campus, 74 East St., Lidcombe, NSW 2141, Australia

Correspondence should be addressed to Nicola Hancock

Received 30 July 2016; Accepted 24 January 2017; Published 26 February 2017

Academic Editor: Claudia Hilton

Copyright © 2017 Alexandra Nugent et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background/Aim. Internationally, mental health policy requires clinicians to shift from a medical to a recovery-oriented approach. However, there is a significant lag in the translation of policy into practice. Occupational therapists have been identified as ideally situated to be recovery-oriented yet limited research exploring how they do this exists. This study aimed to explore Australian occupational therapists’ experiences of developing and sustaining recovery-orientation in mental health practice. Methods. Semistructured, in-depth interviews were conducted with twelve occupational therapists working across different mental health service types. Participants identified themselves as being recovery-oriented. Data were analysed using constant comparative analysis. Results. Occupational therapists described recovery-oriented practice as an active, ongoing, and intentional process of seeking out knowledge, finding fit between understandings of recovery-oriented practice and their professional identity, holding hope, and developing confidence through clinical reasoning. Human and systemic aspects of therapists’ workplace environment influenced this process. Conclusions. Being a recovery-oriented occupational therapist requires more than merely accepting a specific framework. It requires commitment and ongoing work to develop and sustain recovery-orientation. Occupational therapists are called to extend current leadership activity beyond their workplace and to advocate for broader systemic change.