Mission and Philosophy

Mission statement

The mission of the Department of Occupational Therapy at Western Michigan University is to prepare occupational therapists as leaders and advocates who will improve the health, well-being, and quality of life for diverse populations. Consistent with the university’s mission of a learner-centered research institution, the department has committed to:

  • Educating exemplary occupational therapy professionals
  • Promoting innovation and discovery
  • Building and sustaining mutually enriching local and global partnerships

Philosophy statement

In agreement with the Philosophical Base of Occupational Therapy (2017), Western Michigan University’s Department of Occupational Therapy acknowledges that “occupations are activities that bring meaning to the daily lives of individuals, families, communities, and populations and enable them to participate in society.” Occupational therapy is based on the belief that meaningful occupation (purposeful activity), including its interpersonal and environmental components, can be used to prevent or remediate dysfunction and to facilitate maximum adaptation. An individual’s contribution toward goal development and engagement in intervention is critical to an effective therapeutic outcome. Effective therapeutic outcome can be defined as an outcome in which the client has demonstrable improvement in one or more aspects of functional performance valued by the client.

The Philosophy of Occupational Therapy Education (2018) resembles the philosophy of occupational therapy, however, it specifies beliefs about the knowledge, learning, and teaching of occupational therapy students. Western Michigan University’s Department of Occupational Therapy believes that throughout the human lifespan, meaningful occupation is essential for reaching developmental milestones and achieving life satisfaction. Human life is a process of continuous adaptation. Adaptation is a change in function that promotes survival and self-actualization. When adaptation is interrupted dysfunction may occur. Meaningful occupation facilitates the adaptive process in health as well as in illness. 

Occupational therapy education is grounded in a shared belief that humans are complex beings engaged in an interactive process of continuous adaptation and growth influenced by their physical, social, and cultural environments. Occupational therapy educators advocate for the use of occupation to facilitate adaptation represented by a change in functional performance or context that promotes survival, self-actualization, and quality of life.

Learning is valued as a lifelong process promoting competence and scholarship through entry-level, post-professional, and continuing education. Occupational therapy educators involve the learner in a collaborative process that integrates academic knowledge, experiential learning, clinical reasoning, and self-reflection. Occupational therapy education encompasses shared philosophical and theoretical knowledge bases, values and beliefs, ethical standards, skills, and broad application to practice. 


  • American Occupational Therapy Association. (2017). Philosophical base of occupational therapy. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(Suppl. 2), 7112410045. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2017.716S06
  • American Occupational Therapy Association. (2018). Philosophy of occupational therapy education. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72(Suppl. 2), 7212410070. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2018.72S201