Exploring paediatric occupational therapists' knowledge and use of mindfulness as a self-regulation strategy for children in middle childhood
The aim of this research was to explore paediatric occupational therapists' knowledge and use of mindfulness as a self-regulation strategy for children in middle childhood. It has been proposed by researchers that mindfulness can be cultivated as an internal self-regulatory resource to foster resilience, resourcefulness and well-being (Kabat-Zinn, 2013). The topic of mindfulness therefore fits well within the tapestry of Positive Psychology (PP) and its intention to investigate ways to promote the well-being of individuals and communities (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2014). The profession of PP and Occupational Therapy (OT) both coincide with their pragmatic focus on enhancing well-being. Occupational therapists (OTs) believe that: “Man, through the use of his hands, as they are energized by mind and will, can influence the state of his own health." As a result from this founding belief, OTs use occupations and meaningful engagement in occupations to promote well-being (Townsend & Polatajko, 2007, p. 14). Although recent researchers are starting to investigate the compatibility of positive emotions, flow, mindfulness and hope within the practices of OT, there is little research to date that investigates how mindfulness is used by occupational therapists particularly for children in middle childhood (Reid, 2011). A qualitative descriptive design was used and ten participants in the Cape Peninsula area (Western Cape Province) participated who complied with the inclusion criteria. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews; thematic data analysis was conducted and four main themes were identified. Findings reveal OTs unique understanding of self-regulation which focuses largely on the sensory domain. OTs refer to this bottom-up process of self-regulation (sensory regulation) in order to help achieve a state of mindfulness. When it comes to the use of mindfulness in practice, OTs stressed the importance of using the senses, the role of education, and taking the environment into account. The findings also indicate that OTs view mindfulness as a critical skill, applicable to both clinical and non-clinical populations of children in middle childhood. As this is a qualitative and a small sample study, constraints do apply to generalizability of the study and utility of findings in practice. However, a possible noteworthy contribution of this study is that the OT profession offers a unique understanding of self-regulation (taking into account the biology of psychology) as well as pragmatic approaches to using mindfulness as a self-regulation strategy, contributing to a knowledge base within preexisting Positive Psychology frameworks exploring self-regulation and mindfulness. In the same breath, OT can gain benefit from Positive Psychology as it provides a landscape of knowledge covering psychological phenomena that could broaden the field’s knowledge base.
- Health Sciences