Occupational Performance Coaching: A Contemporary Approach for Working with Parents of Children with Occupational Challenges

Article excerpt

A thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at University of Queensland, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Division of Occupational Therapy.

This thesis examined the effects and mechanisms of OPC in two studies. Parents engaged in between 6 and 10 weekly one hour sessions of OPC with the author of this thesis. Sessions occurred in a university research clinic and involved an iterative application of OPC.

Study One (a pilot study) examined the effects of OPC with three parent-child dyads (all mothers) on parents' and children's occupational performance, and parents' problem-solving and self-competence. Each parent's engagement in the intervention was discussed in view of the outcomes achieved. Parents' experiences of OPC were also explored through post-intervention interviews. Procedures and instruments were also reviewed and adjusted where needed to inform the main study (Study Two).

Findings from Study One indicated that occupational performance improved following OPC for all parents and children in the occupations for which goals were set. Improvements in parents' self-competence in supporting their children with goal-related tasks and more widely in their parenting roles were also observed. Changes in parents' problem-solving skills were inconclusive. In the post-intervention interviews with parents themes of new learning, changes at home, and a rewarding challenge emerged. Parents were positive about the intervention and recommended its continued investigation.

Study Two (n=29) examined the effectiveness of OPC in improving parents' (all mothers) and children's occupational performance and self-competence, and parents' problem-solving with a larger sample using a pre-post study design. Parents' experiences of engaging in OPC were again sought. Statistically significant improvements in parents' and children's occupational performance and goal achievement were observed with some evidence of generalisation of skills to other tasks. Improvements in parents' and children's self-competence, and parents' problem-solving following OPC were all positive but were not all statistically significant. Parents' reports of their experience of engaging in OPC were similar to those described by parents in Study One with themes emphasising the learning that occurred, and parents' perceptions that OPC helped to shape a calmer, happier family life.

Findings from these two studies indicate that OPC is associated with improvement in both parents' and children's occupational performance. …