Two life history interviews were conducted to discover how one woman, Jenny, experienced a traumatic head injury, rehabilitation, and recovery. Narrative analysis of the transcribed interviews revealed a rich story of how Jenny had fashioned her identity and character through childhood occupations, including studying classical literature and music, and of how she drew upon resources developed in childhood to engineer her recovery. It also illustrated how Jenny used a recursive process of narrative construction and engagement in self-devised graduated occupations, including studying, playing music, writing, computer graphics, and theater production, to create a new identity and develop capacities to process complex information and exercise creativity.
Jenny’s story illustrates the usefulness of gaining a perspective on patients as occupational beings through the gathering of life histories focused on occupation, the importance of collaborative patient-therapist goal setting, and the necessity for considering both the doing (practic) and the meaning (narrative) aspects of occupation. Her story supports many scholars’ arguments that the therapeutic relationship, and thus occupational therapy practice, may be enhanced through the use of life history interviewing in occupational therapy evaluation and treatment.