True to Our Philosophy? Sexual Orientation and Occupation

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Occupational science and occupational therapy suggest that people engage in occupations that are meaningful and relevant to them on personal and cultural levels. Sexual orientation is one theme of meaning in a person's life which influences his or her choice of occupations and the meaning and relevance those occupations hold. Sexual orientation, as it is conceptualised here, encompasses far more than a person's choice of sexual partner and is, therefore, an important area for an occupational therapist to consider. It is, however, an often neglected area in both curricula and the literature.

This paper presents the results of a qualitative study which investigated the perspectives of basic grade occupational therapists regarding working with clients of gay, lesbian or bisexual sexual orientation. Six basic grade occupational therapists were interviewed using a semi-structured format and four themes emerged. The findings included that the basic grade occupational therapists interviewed did not consider occupation in its complexity and so did not appreciate how sexual orientation might be expressed in a person's occupations. The interviews also indicated that the subject of sexuality is still taboo in occupational therapy.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2000

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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