Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2022

Academic Department

Occupational Therapy

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Judy Beck Ericksend and Dr. Gabriel Ricci


Dispersed among the Earth, individuals find identity in thousands of cultures and societal organizations (Mthembu & Duncan, 2021). Many of these cultures, although each unique in their own way, fall into two distinct categories of values (Hofstede, 1991). Individualistic cultures and collectivist cultures pervade the countries in a variety of forms; however, they all share similar values within these two categories (Triandis, 1993). Individualist cultures operate under the notion of self-interest with the goal of independence (Hofstede, 1991). Collectivist cultures believe that one functions as a member of the group with the goal of harmony and relationship (Mthembu & Duncan, 2021). These two contrasting values allow the establishment of various societies interpreting the cultural values and allowing them to influence political, emotional, and societal standards (Mesquita, 2001). Common to both organizations is the concept of personhood which ties together the members of all cultures. What makes an individual a person? What defines one’s identity? These questions apply to all and individualist and collectivist cultures each interpret the search in accordance with their values. Personhood will be defined separately in the contexts of the two cultures during the literature review.

One such profession deeply rooted in the care for people is occupational therapy. Since its conception, the field of occupational therapy facilitates ways for individuals to maintain their identity through the use of occupations (Mroz, et al., 2015). Models of occupational therapy practice help influence practitioners in their provision of services and help supply perspectives to manage each client and person in the best way. Two models in particular reflect the values of collectivist and individualist cultures as previously mentioned. As both models advise therapists on ways to interpret their clients, both provide different views on the treatment of the person. Throughout this paper, the topic of personhood will be explored in the contexts of two contrasting models of occupational therapy: The Model of Human Occupation and the Kawa model.


Honors Senior Thesis