Abstract

The results of a previous inquiry suggest that three images of occupational therapists dominate patients’ stories about them: the images of technician, parent, and collaborator or friend. These ways of being in practice can be said to reflect the various understandings that therapists have about how to enact the profession’s commitment to both competence and caring. When therapists act as technicians or authoritarian parents, patients register their disappointment over a valuation of competence that excludes caring actions.

In a more current inquiry into the climate of caring, patients and caregivers reflect about the current health care system and identify three societal constructs that shape a preference for competence over caring: (a) emphasis on the rational fixing of the health care problem, (b) overreliance on methods and protocols, and (c) a health care system driven by business, efficiency, and profit. Occupational therapists who are concerned about complaints that the health care system is increasingly uncaring might benefit from a consideration of the extent to which societal beliefs shape the manner in which they care.

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