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  • Writer's pictureSawdustOT

Woodworking – The Heart of OT

Occupational therapy is a term that most of the public has a preconceived notion of what that word means to them. In the same sense, this field provides a meaningful form of therapy that varies depending on each individual’s needs. The ability to create practically any occupation as a form of therapy allows for a bonus opportunity to allocate services in a variety of approaches.

In 1918, Dr. William Dunton, also known as the “father of occupational therapy”, applied an unorthodox approach to therapy. He was one of the first to believe in the healing potential of his patients participating in occupational activities (1). Dunton specifically applied the use of creating objects from each patients’ hands as a therapeutic activity. He utilized a varying array of crafts as therapy from quilting, woodworking, and creating hooked rugs. Dunton’s principles and contributions are still relevant and valued to present day within the occupational therapy realm. He believed in an “added specificity to core concepts of occupational therapy by analyzing activities in terms of their creativity, physical effort, social potential, and intellectual demands and matching them with the categorized needs of patients (1).”

Since Dunton’s productive career, occupational therapy continues to grow to increase qualifications of services for a variety of individual needs. However, the heart of occupational therapy continues to fall back to a core concept, of client’s participating in work through the use of their hands. Woodworking allows for each individual to not only create expressive items through work but allows for each person to collaborate in the process of creating a meaningful production. With the complexity of the varying components required to create an object from hand into a feasible end product continues to be recognized as the core of occupational therapy. Woodworking utilizes the intricate concepts of occupational therapy not only as a means for therapy but also as an end. With the endless possibilities, woodworking allows each individual to create meaningful experiences that allow them to develop a sense of achievement in one’s own abilities.


The Dunton Family Organization. (2018, January). Dr. William R. Dunton. Retrieved from

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