Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy

Creative Partnerships with Consumers and Professionals

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy

Creative Partnerships with Consumers and Professionals

Article excerpt


How can occupational therapists identify partnerships in human services that tend to generate competition rather than a coherent mission? How can we form creative partnerships with consumers (service users) and professionals when distrust and service inflexibility seem to prevail? A creative partnership has to start from an empathetic listener with a secure sense of self who seeks to build an effective two-way relationship. A creative idea in human services is about simplicity and practicality. In the context of providing clinical services, it is paramount to work with a family or a whanau, or significant others. Building on one's strengths is another hallmark of a creative partnership.


Collaboration, occupational therapy, professionalism, mental health, addiction.


Tse, S. (2016). Creative partnerships with consumers and professionals. New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy, 63(1), 21-27.

Each time I look at the conference theme, "doing well together", it is myself I see. I would like to dedicate the keynote presentation to Mr. Barry Leung and Ms. Agnes Ng, who passed away and are dearly missed. Between 1981 and 1984, we underwent our training in occupational therapy together at The Hong Kong Polytechnic (which obtained full university status and became The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in November 1994). We learned together; we did well together.

This paper consists of three main sections: 1) My perspective regarding the doing well together journey; 2) A description of a doing well together colleague or leader; and 3) Four examples of creative partnerships, followed by a discussion and conclusion.

The doing well together journey

Human occupation is often about being social and doing well together activities (Dickie, Cutchin, & Humphry, 2006; Hocking, 2000, 2015). During June and July 2015, I was on a work trip to Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Cambodia, to visit the students sent by my faculty at The University of Hong Kong for service learning in the region. I took the opportunity to visit the famous Angkor Wat on my last day, before returning to Hong Kong. I was fascinated by one particular picture amidst many beautiful stone-crafted images on the wall. It depicted a group of dancers performing together before their king and queen. I have a vivid memory of their hand movements, bodily gestures, and the smiles on their faces. There are many beautiful examples of doing well together in modern times too. Readers may remember the photo of the team of cyclists led by Chris Froome spreading out in a straight line, holding each other across their shoulders, as they crossed the finish line; a joyous moment with which to celebrate doing well together. Changing the scene, and perhaps the tone too, I was very touched by the imagery in a YouTube video of the entire Palmerston North Boy's School (situated in North Island, New Zealand) performing an emotional farewell Haka at a beloved, ong-serving teacher's funeral as a tribute to him. As Dally wrote (adapted from 2015, p. 81), from ancient to modern times, from human experience to neurophysiology, "the ways our brains and bodies work replicate many aspects of human life... the connections, communication and partnerships between people, communities, countries and cultures".

One of my doing well together journeys began in Dunedin, when my wife and I emigrated from Hong Kong to New Zealand in 1989 (Tse, 2011) and I took up a teaching position at the Department of Occupational Therapy, Otago Polytechnic, in 1992. We loved the country so much that we stayed in New Zealand for more than 20 years, joining the School of Population Health at The University of Auckland in 2001before returning to Hong Kong to look after our ageing parents. During my time in New Zealand, I was given the opportunity to take up various roles and was entrusted with many different responsibilities. …

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