Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Dr. Louis Charland


Drawing on a Foucauldian genealogical methodology this dissertation critically examines the historical lineage of occupational therapy. During the latter half of the 20th century academics in occupational therapy repeatedly argued that reengagement with the values and beliefs that provided an historical foundation for the profession must occur to ensure that occupational therapy remained relevant and continued to flourish. Critics have also called into question the legitimacy of many of the traditional notions which supported the establishment of occupational therapy at the beginning of the 20th century. In critically examining the moral treatment of the 19th century, occupational therapy practice described as moral treatment in the 20th century, and occupational therapy practice that relates to spirituality, some of the normative assumptions that guide practice in different temporal contexts are explored. Specifically, the genealogical methodology employed helped to outline how particular therapeutic technologies work with normative content. A critical examination of historical and contemporary literature revealed an array of therapeutic techniques that, for better or worse, occupation workers had available to them. Practicing authentically would require occupational therapists to attend to the normative ends of treatment. Concluding arguments highlight the necessity of practice that considers the normative dimensions of occupation and the potential for critical research to help outline limits beyond which occupational therapists risk jeopardizing the wellbeing of clients and communities that seek professional attention.