Occupational Therapy Assistant students at Keiser University’s West Palm Beach campus recently delved into a variety of interventions designed to assist those with mental abilities.
Led by instructor Deborah Bojan Zachman, learners in the Psychiatric Disorders Assessment and Treatment Strategies class performed group activities according to the Occupational Therapy protocols they’d learned. They included a yoga and meditation group overseen by Melanie Rojas, a craft project designed to increase serotonin levels led by Gloria Dess, and a dialectical behavioral therapeutic intervention group that focused on animal therapy courtesy of Eric Swiger with the help of his dog Layla. The learners then followed-up with the industry specified ‘SOAP’ notes which refer to the subjective, objective, assessment, and plans for each patient’s specific treatment.
“Layla, our student’s personal service dog brought a positive atmosphere and changed the dynamics of the classroom. As students prepared to perform a group activity competency for a grade, some were nervous and fatigued, but Layla changed the atmosphere to be light-hearted and humorous. Additionally, Layla had a healing effect on some of the students through the sense of touch and provided emotional comfort, enabling the group to gain confidence during their activity presentations,” said Bojan Zachman.
Animal-assisted therapy can be used to help clients with physical and psychiatric disorders when appropriate. Pediatric and adult clients may benefit from therapy service dogs for diagnoses such as anxiety, social phobias, depression, neurocognitive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, and more.
Keiser University’s Associate of Science Occupational Therapy Assistant degree prepares students to work as occupational therapy assistants under the direct supervision of a licensed occupational therapist. Occupational therapy is the art and science of helping people gain skills needed to become independent in daily living activities. Students learn the therapeutic use of occupations that include self-care, work, and play/leisure activities in order to maximize independent function, enhance development, prevent disability, and maintain health. Intervention strategies may include adaptations to a task or environment or compensatory approaches in order to facilitate clients’ achievement of maximum independence.
Keiser University is a private, independent, non-profit university serving nearly 20,000 students at 21 Florida campuses, online, and two international sites. Co-founded in 1977 by Chancellor Arthur Keiser, Ph.D., and Evelyn Keiser, Keiser University currently offers more than 100 degrees from associates to the doctoral level. Keiser University is a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and was ranked No. 11 in the U.S. in Social Mobility by U.S. News and World Reports in 2021.