Stephanie P. OTR

History of Occupational Therapy According To Quotes


  • B.2.1: HO, OTP
  • B.5.1: PD EIP
  • B.5.6: PD Psych.
  • Occupation-based
  • Evidence-Based 

A summary of this page, in APA format is available on the PDF page.

Class of 1917

The founding meeting for the National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy (NSPOT)

is held at Consolation House in Clifton Springs, NY, on March 15, 1917.

Left to right seated: Susan Cox Johnson, George Edward Barton, Eleanor Clarke Slagle.

Left to right standing: William Rush Dunton, Isabel Gladwin (Newton) Barton, Thomas Bessell Kidner.

Courtesy of the Archive of the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.

Relevant Artifacts

Located on the PDF page.

  • Group Protocol: Sensory Bottles
  • Activity Analysis: Basket Weaving
  • Professional Advocacy Essay

AOTA Craft Archive

View documentation about the use of craft in treatment throughout the history of the profession.


Credit: @History of OccupationalTherapy


Crafts roots in occupational therapy

 Craft has been an influence on occupational therapy practice since the start of the profession. Below is a list of the occupational therapy founders, who incorporated craft into their work. 

  • Susan Cox Johnson: Arts and crafts teacher in Curative Occupation Programs in NYC municipal hospitals. 
  • William Rush Dunton: Physician, taught nurses to use arts and crafts as a form of habit training. 
  • George Barton: Architect, opened consolation house, an arts and crafts workshop. 
  • Thomas J Kinder: Architect, constructed institutions that included vocation and manual arts instruction for sick and physically disabled persons in Canada.

At the time the National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy (NSPOT) was founded the arts and crafts movement was taking place throughout the United States and Europe. This was a time before mass production methods, so most goods were manufactured by hand. Many occupations that we consider crafts, today, were once work (Drake, 2017). Items such as chairs, hats, pottery, weapons, tools, and tapestries.



Tubbs, C., & Drake, M. (2017). Crafts and creative media in therapy. Thorofare, NJ: Slack Incorporated.

Craft as a Therapeutic Modality

History tells us that craft has been used as a therapeutic modality since the start of the occupational therapy profession. In 1910, while institutions were using crafts as treatment, Susan Tracy published Studies in Invalid Occupations. This is one of the first occupational therapy specific, professional writings that describes the use of craft in treatment. Since Studies in Invalid Occupations, articles in occupational therapy began to include instructions on how to use crafts to treat clients (Drake, 2017). This is the precursor to today’s activity analysis.


Activity Analysis

According to the Occupational Therapy Framework, occupation is defined as, “various kinds of life activities in which individuals…engage (AOTA, 2014).” Examples of life activities vary from person to person. However, a general definition of life activities is, those things that a person wants to do, has to do, and or needs to do. Since the practice of occupational therapy is focused on facilitating occupational performance through occupational intervention, choosing the right occupation for the client requires an analysis. An activity analysis considers the process and context of the activity. That information is applied to client information that is relevant to the occupational therapy domain of practice. The client information should also give the practitioner an idea of activities that are appropriate and meaningful for the client and their occupational goal(s). The characteristics of a person that fall under the umbrella of occupational therapy domain of practice.

  • Questions to ask when selecting an activity.
    • What goal do I expect the client to accomplish through this activity? 
    • Can I relate the activity to broader occupation-based treatment goals?
      • This question is rooted in theory and wants to know how occupation is being used in the activity, ‘occupation as means’ or ‘occupation as end.’ Once an activity has been selected that satisfies treatment goals and client factors an activity analysis can be developed.

  • Tip for developing an activity analysis.
    • ​Impairment does not always lead to limitations in activity completion. That is where grading comes in. Grading is defined by Willard and Spackman as, “… make the task easier in relation to an identified personal or contextual variable” (Schell, 2014). Grading assists in tailoring the activity analysis to the specific client.


  • Why is an activity analysis important?
    • When selecting a craft for intervention over a physical agent modality because, an activity analysis provides a clear articulation of your rationale. Documenting the clinical reasoning used to justify your craft intervention helps to maintain the credibility of your treatment.


Reflection on Craft as a Therapeutic Modality

Since its inception craft has been an integral part of treatment in the occupational therapy profession. From the early days of making quilts to present day craft groups, craft as a therapeutic modality has established itself through a rich library of published evidence.Craft maintains the fundamentals of the professional that were established by our founders in 1917. Craft will always have a place as in service delivery, within occupational therapy practice. 



American Occupational Therapy Association. (2014). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(Suppl. 1), S1–S48.

Helen S. Schell, Barbara A. Boyt. (Eds.) (2014) Willard & Spackman's occupational therapy. Philadelphia : Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Tubbs, C., & Drake, M. (2017). Crafts and creative media in therapy. Thorofare, NJ: Slack Incorporated.