Abstract

Objectives. The family plays an important role in rehabilitation of persons with chronic disabilities and in supporting their reintegration into the community. To be prepared for family-centered intervention, educators need to frame the content that occupational therapy students must master. The purpose of this study was to develop a hierarchy of occupational therapists’ attitudes about the family’s involvement in services for a family member with special needs.

Method. Participants were 302 occupational therapists who reported some contact with families of clients. Through an open-ended question, participants were asked to indicate the most important outcome of their interactions with their clients’ families.

Results. Analysis of participant responses led to the development of a seven-level hierarchy of family–therapist interactions. The levels are based on the participants’ views of the outcome of family involvement as suggested by their attitudes about a family’s role and abilities. Knowledge and skills needed to work at different levels of the hierarchy are identified.

Conclusion. Recommendations for preparation of entry-level practitioners to work at all levels of the model are discussed.

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