Date Presented 04/22/2023

We explore OT practitioners’ and students’ perspectives on professional resilience and well-being. We present research findings on opportunities to promote physical, mental, and interpersonal well-being in the profession.

Primary Author and Speaker: Abigail Carmona

Additional Authors and Speakers: Olivia Lachowicz, Jasmine Leonard, Chloe Maciolek

Contributing Authors: Bridget Hahn, Evguenia S. Popova

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, over 80% of adults in the U.S. reported feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, and anger (American Psychological Association, 2021), and over 85% of allied health professionals reported increased stress and decreased access to mental health resources (Coto et al., 2020; Ingham et al., 2022). In occupational therapy (OT), practitioners and students have been experiencing a decreased sense of well-being, which has been associated with increased stress and decreased resilience and participation in self-care (Popova et al., 2022). We explore preliminary research findings on practitioner and student perspectives on professional resilience and well-being in OT. Our descriptive study used a phenomenological approach. Practitioners and students were recruited using convenience sampling in the U.S. Focus group interviews captured participants’ perspectives on resilience, health (physical, mental, and interpersonal), and supports and resources for promoting professional resilience and well-being in OT practice. Interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. Practitioners (n = 12) and students (n = 12) reported using multiple strategies to promote well-being, including engaging in exercise, social activities, leisure, rest and sleep, cooking and eating, grooming, and nature-based activities. Peers within professional settings were important influencers to professional resilience. Time management and boundary setting were highlighted as critical self-care tools. Participants appreciated access to institutional health and counseling services and desired additional fitness, mental health, and community-building resources. To support professional well-being and resilience, OT practitioners and students need increased access to physical, mental, and interpersonal self-care resources. In addition, in designing wellness initiatives, the impact of time and boundary setting must be recognized and supported on both individual and system levels.


American Psychological Association. (2021, February 2). APA: U.S. adults report highest stress level since early days of the COVID-19 pandemic [Press release].

Coto, J., Restrepo, A., Cejas, I., & Prentiss, S. (2020). The impact of COVID-19 on allied health professions. PLoS ONE, 15(10), Article e0241328.

Ingham, L., Jackson, E., & Purcell, C. (2022). Learning from adversity: Occupational therapy staff experiences of coping during Covid-19. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 030802262110644.

Popova, E. S., Hahn, B., Morris, H., Loomis, K., Shy, E., Andrews, J., Iacullo, M., Peters, A. (2022). Exploring well-being: Resilience, stress, and self-care in occupational therapy practitioners and students. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health.