Colliding Identities and the Act of Creating Spaces of Belonging in the Occupational Therapy Profession




Occupational therapy, Indigenous health, belonging, marginalization


Introduction. Despite numerous initiatives to recruit a more diverse health professional workforce, those entering the health professions from marginalized groups experience significant barriers to inclusion. The occupational therapy (OT) profession is no exception. The profession, despite language of inclusion, is heavily influenced by colonialism and ableism, and positions itself largely under a Western world view. Literature points to OT students and clinicians from marginalized groups experiencing discrimination and racism, alienation, and internal conflicts between their own sense of identity and that which is expected in the OT profession. Lack of belonging can be a major barrier to success and fulfillment for those wishing to enter the profession. Objective. To highlight the invisible work done by those from marginalized groups to create spaces of belonging in the OT profession, through telling personal stories. Key Issues. Feelings of personal and professional belonging deeply impact the ways diverse OT students and clinicians engage meaningfully with themselves and their communities. Given the profession is currently aiming to identify its largely uninterrogated Western underpinnings, we must listen and learn from and with those from marginalized groups to create systemic, meaningful change. Implications. Creating community and supports within the profession in the context of a marginalized identity takes a significant amount of time and robust mentorship. We must begin to highlight this additional “invisible” work to create systemic changes and solutions and ease the burden for diverse peoples entering the profession.

Author Biographies

Holly Reid, University of British Columbia

PhD Student in Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of British Columbia. 

Tara Pride, Dalhousie University

PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Health at Dalhousie University.


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