Date of Award

Spring 4-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Susan MacDermott

Second Advisor

Erin Schwier

Medical Subject Headings

Occupational Therapy, Human Rights, Social Justice


In the summer of 2020, occupational therapy organizations condemned systemic racism and called on the profession to improve its’ practices in promoting justice and enhancing efforts in increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2020; World Federation of Occupational Therapists). Since then, there have been formations of DEI committees, opportunities for continuing education in justice and antiracist practice, and more discussion in the literature on how therapists could support the occupational rights of their clients. Occupational rights are “the right of all people to engage in occupations that contribute positively to their well-being and the well-being of their communities” (Hammell, 2008, p. 62).

The problem is that there is a lack of discussion on how to promote occupational rights in occupational therapy practice when faced with institutional, cultural, political, personal, and interpersonal barriers in the workplace. To address this problem, this capstone looked to increase the knowledge and practice of occupational rights among occupational therapists by facilitating interacting workshops that stimulated individual and collective critical reflection, discussion, and collaboration on how to implement occupational rights into daily practice.

Four sites with practicing occupational therapists, four didactic occupational therapy graduate students, and a small group of occupational therapy faculty participated in a workshop or focus group that centered the conversation around occupational rights. Each workshop and focus group received background information about occupational rights, participated in an activity and/or discussion about occupational rights, and ended the experience with group reflections and collective accountability commitments on how to continue to learn and incorporate occupational rights into practice. Results of the workshops and focus groups saw most participants understanding how occupational rights connect with other justice concepts, feeling comfortable discussing the topic with their peers, and wanting to participate in more workshops like the one they attended.


Capstone project submitted to the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor or Occupational Therapy.

Available for download on Wednesday, January 01, 2025