Skills for Living Occupational Therapy Clinic

The Skills for Living Clinic promotes mental health well-being through a group approach to treatment and serves clients ages four through young adult. Diagnoses include: ADHD, mood disorders, PTSD, Anxiety, FASD and ODD. Referral sources come from community mental health case workers and other clinics, doctors or hospitals in the Kalamazoo area. The focus of the clinic is to teach individuals life skills that promote independent functioning within their daily environment, i.e. school, work and home. Common daily skills addressed at the clinic include meal preparation, self-regulation skills, creating and maintaining peer relationships, money management, and self-care.

The role of the occupational therapy intern, under supervision of the licensed occupational therapist, includes a comprehensive evaluation in conjunction with developing client-centered goals and interventions which commonly address developing appropriate social skills, peer cooperation, coping strategies, as well as minimizing inappropriate and aggressive behaviors. The OT intern will be guided in developing client-centered and occupation-based intervention plans supported by appropriate theoretical approaches and empirical evidence. Students will also establish strong therapeutic reasoning skills based upon theoretical concepts, such as psychodynamic, sensory integration, psychosocial, MOHO, and social participation frames of reference. During the semester the OT intern is also provided the opportunity to develop and refine their ability to create therapeutic relationships in conjunction with client-centered activities to facilitate independent daily living skills. Communication with the client’s family and caregivers is an essential component of the process and each student is expected to provide exceptional attention and care throughout the client’s stay in our program.

Client evaluation process

The evaluation is scheduled over two 1.5-hour sessions and consists of standardized assessments, parent and child interviews, and self-report questionnaires in addition to informal clinical observations, social interaction skills, as well as age appropriate ADL/IADL and self-care tasks. Evaluations primarily focus on psychosocial factors as well as sensory processing including but not limited to self-regulation skills, social participation and self-concept.

OT students administer a minimum of three of the following evaluations:

  •  Social skills improvement system
  • Sensory profile parent/caregiver questionnaire
  • Quick neurological screening test
  • Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration
  • Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, Second Edition
  • Degangi Berk Test of Sensory Integration
  • Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale
  • Miller Function and Participation Scales
  • House-Tree-Person

Client intervention process

Intervention is scheduled for 1.5-hour, once weekly sessions divided into two nights: Tuesdays from 5 to 6:30 p.m. for ages eight to 12 years old and Thursdays from 5 to 6:30 p.m. for ages four to seven and 12 to 18 years old. Intervention is designed to improve general communication and socialization skills as well as emotional regulation skills and different ADL/IADLs and self-care tasks. An individualized intervention plan is developed in collaboration with the client and any individuals identified as “significant” by the client. Although the Skills for Living Clinic is a group setting, client goals are individualized in order to target specific areas deemed important by both the client and their families. Skills acquired through therapeutic groups provided in the Skills for Living Clinic are expected to be generalized to any occupations the child participates in. Through assessments, feedback from student clinicians, and group sessions targeting appropriate social skill development, self-care tasks and IADL/ADL task completion, clients will learn appropriate self-regulation strategies, age appropriate communication skills (verbal and non-verbal) as well as education in the areas of self-care and IADL/ADL task completion. The Skills for Living Clinic therapeutic group sessions are structured using M. Cole 7-Step format for group processes.

By the end of the semester it is expected that students will have developed the following basic competencies regarding working with children and young adults with mental health disorders:

  • Evaluation and intervention process

  • Building therapeutic relationship and therapeutic use of self

  • Developing client-centered and occupation-based intervention plan supported by appropriate theoretical approaches and empirical evidence

  • Providing intervention directed toward improving communication and interaction skills, self-care skills, independence in ADL/IADLs, and emotional regulation strategies

  • Implementing one-to-one and group intervention