Did you think that OT Practitioners can only work at hospitals? Think again!
Next up on our #OTSettingsSeries is Kasey O’Haren, MSOT, OTR/L, RYT. Kasey knew she wanted to offer something different and more holistic to the individuals she worked with, especially after overcoming obstacles during her pre-teen, teen and young adult years. She has always been holistically inclined, and became a therapeutic yoga instructor in college. During OT school, she continuously noted how the mind-body-spirit connection was missing in aspects of healthcare. When focusing on the whole person, including the mind, body and spirit during therapy sessions, Kasey noted a huge difference and improvement in her patients. Therefore, Kasey began forging her own path, completing training in holistic healing, life and wellness coaching, myofascial release, reflex integration, and social-emotional programs for individuals with and without diagnosed disabilities.
Shannen: Hi there Kasey, can you describe your setting? Can you share about what makes it particularly unique?
Kasey: I live in a somewhat urban area of Charleston, South Carolina, and serve clients here as well as online. My setting is Holistic and Integrative Occupational Therapy, focusing on mental health and wellness. I mostly engineered my particular business/setting myself after figuring out what did and did not work for my clients in traditional health care and OT settings. That being said, my setting in holistic and integrative occupational therapy is ever evolving as I learn more techniques and skills to assist patients to feel “whole” and centered. I work independently for now, but I do have some great relationships with other providers in my area who often send clients my way. I hope to bring on some other holistic OTs/OTAs soon, and eventually hope to grow my practice with holistic nutritionists, therapists and more.
Shannen: Who benefits from OT services in your setting? How does or how can a person get referred to your setting?
Kasey: I accept clients across the lifespan, because my work all revolves around reintegrating, centering, calming and unwinding the nervous system so that individuals, both very young and very old, are able to fully participate in their occupations. I specialize in working with individuals with chronic pain, chronic stress, anxiety, attention difficulties, behavioral disturbances, mental health diagnoses, and more. Most of the pediatric clients I see for reflex integration and social-emotional regulation have a diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder, ADD/ADHD, developmental delay, sensory processing disorder, and more. Many of the teens I see struggle with anxiety and self-worth, preventing them from fully engaging in their occupations. Many of the adults I see for myofascial release suffer from trauma, chronic pain, chronic stress and anxiety.
Shannen: What value does OT bring to your setting? How do you incorporate salient (meaningful) occupations into your interventions?
Kasey: I take a bottom up approach when treating all my clients, so I really work from the inside out. Basically, from the nervous system out.
I believe that individuals are not able to fully participate in their desired occupations when there are underlying factors preventing full participation such as pain, anxiety, stress, sleep disturbance, mental health trouble, attention difficulties, self-worth lack and other internal struggles.
I work to balance these so that individuals can live their life to the fullest and have tools to manage these difficulties when they come up.
Shannen: What does occupational therapy look like in your setting? Do you see patients in their homes or online or both?
Kasey: I see patients in their natural environment, usually 1x/week for an hour. I am also starting to see some patients online for mindfulness and wellness coaching. And I run mindfulness and anxiety groups that are all online right now.
Shannen: What certifications or specialties do you have? Why and how did you pursue them?
Kasey: Registered Yoga Teacher, Yoga Therapy courses, Reflex Integration, Craniosacral Therapy, Myofascial Release, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction – these are all the basis of my practice, so that is why I chose to pursue them!
Shannen: Why do you feel compelled to work in this setting?
Kasey: I love it because the results for the clients are incredible and so quick. I also love it because, since it is totally my own, I am 100% passionate about it and about what I offer.
Shannen: What things do you wish you could change about this setting?
Kasey: The politics of insurance and not all evidence-based therapies being covered which creates a barrier for some clients. Also, the cost of insurance itself is prohibitive, but I won’t get into all of that right now.
Shannen: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? How does working in this setting help you reach your personal professional goals?
Kasey: I hope to expand this practice across the state and south east. I hope to teach OT/OTA students about holistic and integrative therapies. I aspire to educate all healthcare professionals of the importance of mental health and wellness. I hope to create continuing education courses and offer them online.
Shannen: What specific “special skills” (like things you aren’t prepared from entry level OTA/OT skills) do you need to be successful in your setting?
Kasey: It is important to receive training in many holistic therapies including myofascial release, craniosacral therapy, reflex integration and mindfulness.
Shannen: *if applicable to your setting* How do you deal with grief, illness, sadness, loss, caregiver burden…etc in your setting? (What psychosocial interventions…who do you refer your patients to….how do your prevent burnout and maximize your own self care and occupational balance??)
Kasey: MINDFULNESS! SO important. I incorporate it into almost every session, and I have my own practice that I perform for my well-being.
Shannen: Advice you would give to someone thinking about / wanting to work in your setting? What do you wish you knew about this setting x years ago (before you started)?
Kasey: Follow your passion, know your worth, don’t sell your self short, and don’t believe everything you hear.
Find someone who is doing something you want to do, and ask them for advice.
Don’t be afraid to start early.
Shannen: Anything else your heart desires to tell the ot world about …? J
Kasey: Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Most of us OTs are very empathetic and we need to have very good self-care practices. Reach out to me if you ever need help. I am here.
Want to connect with Kasey?
Questions? Comments? Feedback!! Please consider posting below!! Follow the hashtag #OTSettingsSeries on Instagram to never miss a post:)!!
Finally, a kind thank you to Kasey for sharing a glimpse of her holistic and integrative OT world through her unique lens!!