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ASOT OTD Program Student Handbook

The Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy (ASOT), Occupational Therapy Doctoral (OTD) Program Student Handbook is the policy and procedure resource specific to this program. This handbook aligns with the Spalding University Student Handbook and Catalog.


The Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy (ASOT) aspires to prepare future practitioners who strive to maximize health, kayak  looking down river like visionwell-being, and quality of life for all people, populations, and communities through preeminent professional thinking skills. Professional thinking includes reflective, evidence-informed, client-centered practice that includes collaboration and leadership within complex evolving health and human service delivery systems.



The Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program (OTD), as part of The Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy, embraces time’s essential flow through the River of Occupation by creating collaborative, effective, and ethical practice leaders, administrators, and researchers who value the use of occupation to meet the needs of the time. Faculty and students in the OTD program emphasize the use of the following concepts:

  • education and collaboration among individuals, groups, teams and populations to meet the occupational needs of society;

  • leadership in practice and advocacy to maximize the accessibility of occupational therapy services through program and policy development in the ever-changing healthcare climate;

  • critical thinking/ occupation-based reasoning/ ethical reasoning by incorporating theoretical knowledge and evidence-based practice into complex service delivery systems;

  • compassionate, client-centered care to foster the physical, psychosocial, and spiritual well-being of diverse communities.two kayakers running like they're on a mission


The Occupational Therapy Doctoral (OTD) Program within the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy (ASOT) embraces the core values delineated in American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) Philosophical Base of Occupational Therapy (AOTA, 2017) and supports AOTA’s Philosophy of Occupational Therapy Education (2018). The OTD philosophy is guided by an understanding by an understanding and appreciation of the interconnections between human beings as occupational beings; learning and education as ethical processes and the practice of occupational therapy.  Foundational values of occupational therapy education, research, and practice and its meaning is embedded within this philosophy.

Human Beings 

The Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy (ASOT) faculty ascertains three major assumptions describing how persons create meaning and direct actions within life tasks, activities, roles and occupations.

The three major assumptions of humans as occupational beings include:

  1. Humans are defined and transformed by what they do. Doing is influenced by engagement in occupations. Occupations are activities that bring meaning to the human condition. All people have innate needs and rights to engage in occupation(s). An individual is continually adapting and evolving as the world is experienced and one engages in various occupations. There is constant interchange of energy between the person and the physical, social, cultural, virtual, and personal environments; linking the person with other individuals, objects, and structures, within spatial and temporal contexts. (We are what we do.)

  2. Each individual is a unified whole; individuals function as a gestalt whose totality is greater than the sum of his/her parts. Through recognition of human complexity, an individual’s values, beliefs, and principles play major role(s) in meeting the needs of the times for the development of one’s identity. (We are more than the sum of our parts.)

  3. Humans are active organisms that create meaning through everyday actions, which entails viewing past, present, and future as an unfolding story based upon one’s lived experiences and perception of reality. Thus, a human adapts his or her habits, roles, rituals and routines throughout one’s life course in pursuit of meaningful purposeful outcomes. Human beings are occupational beings. (We adapt and evolve.)

Learning and Education as Ethical Processes

The ASOT faculty assert that learning takes place by doing and it is an interactive, transformational, dynamic process. Each student brings his/her past lived experiences to the learning community. The anticipated outcomes of a professional education include expansion of one's innate disposition to inquire and engage in life-long learning. This includes the ability to gather and synthesize information, demonstrate critical thinking and enhance active reflective problem-solving skills. Students’ journey through the OTD curriculum provides varied opportunities for expressing and experiencing professional thinking and accountability in the execution of a plan of action, and the development of personal and professional self-reflective skills.  (Learning occurs through shared engagement.)

Education empowers students to transform into competent occupational therapists who impact society by being health and wellness providers who are leaders in clinical practice, education, and research who demonstrate advanced thinking skills.  Graduates of the OTD program are advocates who meet the occupational needs of society through engagement in compassionate, occupation based, ethical reasoning actions. (Education transforms students into leaders.)

Ethics is a fundamental part of the life and the occupational needs of humans. Ethical reasoning requires a systematic reflection on, and analysis of, morality. It serves as a foundation tenet of the learning process within the professional occupational therapy doctorate curriculum.  Occupational therapy education shapes the future of the profession and ethical reasoning within the educational process takes on dynamic forms within varied practice contexts, interpersonal relations, and with interactions through emerging technologies. Ethical reasoning skills and constructs of behavior emerge and evolve as students assume the varied roles of occupational therapy practitioners.  A career in occupational therapy requires many dynamic complex choices that are successfully navigated through a learning and educational process that is firmly steadied within strong ethical principles. (Ethics informs learning and sound decision-making.)

Occupational Therapy

Compassionate, client-centered, evidence-informed occupational therapy engages clients in the therapeutic process, using a strengths-based approach. Occupational therapists recognize that engagement in occupation(s) promotes wellness, that occupations are health determinants, and that societal participation is a fundamental right. Occupational therapy practitioners, educators, and researchers provide a holistic approach to care that fosters the achievement of physical, psychosocial, and spiritual health of individuals, groups, populations, communities, and society. Occupational therapists use occupation-based reasoning to empower clients to do the things they want and need to do; taking into consideration the skills, task, environment, and context.  (Compassionate client-centered OT promotes living life to the fullest.)