Londoners putting the Occupation in Occupational Therapy


April 11, 2016 by Josephine Dolan-Dufourd

What is Occupation?

Inspired by the recent BAOT campaign to highlight the occupation within occupational therapy and using our full titles to promote an understanding of our role The London Regional Committee decided to do a series of interviews with occupational therapists around London to see what this means to them within their roles.

So we are going to start with our new regional communications lead Josephine Dolan…


When did you qualify and where from?

I qualified in 2000 from The University of Wales College of Medicine which is now Cardiff University.

How did you come to be an occupational therapist?

My father had a car accident when I was 16, he spent a long time recovering in hospital and I was most inspired by the work he did with the occupational therapists at RAF Headley Court.

What is your job title?

I am a Band 7 Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist working within a Substance Use Support Service in a medium secure unit in East London.

What does occupation mean within your job?

For our service users my focus as an occupational therapist is to explore the role of substance use and how it serves as an occupation. When somebody stops using substances we explore not only the physical and emotional impacts of the use of the substance but how it often served as the most reliable attachment in their lives, they knew how to get it, what the impact would be, how long it would last, for example, so it acts as an important and reliable relationship that many people may not have had from the people they were around growing up and as adults. Also using drugs give somebody a lot of purpose to their day, a reason to get up, leave the house, to socialise and meet people It is so much more that the effects of the substance. So whilst it may seem a wonderful thing to be clean from substances it can be very daunting as that person has to rebuild their whole lives, make new friends, and find new places to go and new things to do with their time. So we explore the occupation of substance use and how they will manage short and long term to reach their goals and lead the independent lives that they intend for themselves.

So to cut a long story short…. The occupation is the substance use and the role it has played in that persons lives, supporting the service user to explore their daily lives and how they are going to replace the habit, manage the change in lifestyle with new occupations supports them to reach their goals, be it harm minimisation or abstinence.

And occupation within your life?

It’s all about balance. It took me a long time to work this one out…..Running, yoga and meditation keep me healthy. Morning discos with my children in our home to keep me happy (read dancing around our home to Lady Gaga). To keep my brain ticking over I am learning French and have trained as a mindfulness teacher with Bangor University. Being with my husband and children for purpose, love and meaning. For indulgence afternoon teas, spa trips, Prestat violet and rose creams, the odd clothing purchase and a copy of Harper’s Bazaar, The Gentlewoman and French Vogue on a Saturday morning with Marmite on toast.

We are currently at the start of preparing a move to France where my husband is from. I’ll convert my qualification once my language is up to speed and be known as an ergothérapeute (ergo-tera-put). Be careful how you say the last bit of the word… if you’re interested leave a comment below and I’ll answer that one privately.

You can follow Josephine on twitter and Instagram via @twinsinlondon

If you would like to feature as part of this series exploring the role of occupation within you role as an occupational therapist in London please contact us at


2 thoughts on “Londoners putting the Occupation in Occupational Therapy

  1. Gwen says:

    Hello Josephine ! I am a French OT living in London for 3 years, do not hesitate to contact me if you want to discuss about your project 🙂

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