The Dark Side of Occupation

Exploring the Dark Side of Occupation #ERCOT16 #thedarksideofoccupation

My colleague Mary Cowan and I were really excited when Dr Rebecca Twinley for invited us to facilitate a workshop at the College of Occupational Therapists Eastern Region ‘Dark Side of Occupational Therapy’ study day on 30th September 2016. We love any chance to get our OTgeek on, and are very grateful for the opportunity. Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it, but I am looking forward to following the tweets and hearing about the great discussions that will no doubt take place.

Aims of the day:

  • Discuss occupations that are not, for example, health-promoting or health‐giving
  • To appreciate that people do not always do things that are positive and productive
  • To be able to reflect upon your own engagement in the dark side of occupation
  • To be able to discuss the reasons as to why some people engage in the dark side of occupation
  • To consider relevance and application of the concept to education, research, and practice

Exploring the Dark Side of Occupation

Twinley (2013) suggests that there are aspects of occupation “which are less acknowledged, less explored and less understood” (pg. 302). How can we, as occupational therapists, effectively explore the unexplored occupations of individuals? Using the analogy of space exploration, we will share examples and reflections from practice about how to navigate the dark side of occupation without being sucked into a black hole or floating off into space.


View the Prezi

Download a PDF of the Prezi

Read tweets from the study day on Storify

References and Further Reading

Bundy, C. (2004) ‘Changing Behaviour: Using Motivational Interviewing Techniques’, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 97(Supl.44), pp. 43-47

Elliot, M. (2012) ‘Figured World of Eating Disorders: Occupations of Illness’, Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 79(1), pp. 15-22. DOI: 10.2182/cjot.2012.79.1.3

Jones, L. (2010) ‘The Role of the Occupational Therapist in Treating People with Personality Disorders’ in Murphy, N. and McVey, D. (eds) Treating Personality Disorder: Creating Robust Services for People with Complex Mental Health Needs. London: Routledge. pp. 201-219

Moskowitz, C. (2010) FAQs: How Do Astronauts Take Space Walks? Available at: (Accessed: 23 September 2016)

National Careers Service (2016) Astronaut Job Information. Available at: (Accessed:  23 September 2016)

Nordbo, R.H., Espeset, E.M., Gulliksen, K.S., Skaarderud, F. and Holte, A. (2006) ‘The Meaning of Self-Starvation: Qualitative Study of Patients’ Perception of Anorexia Nervosa’, International Journal of Eating Disorders, 39(7), pp. 556-564. DOI: 10.1002/eat.20276

OTalk (2012) Anti-Social Occupations: the ‘Dark Side’ of Occupation. Available at: (Accessed: 30 September 2016)

pd2ot (2012) Self-Defeating Occupation. Available at: (Accessed: 29 September 2016)

pd2ot (2014) Pro-Eating Disorder Websites – a Personal, Occupational Perspective. Available at: (Accessed: 29 September 2016

Simon Phillips, K. (2016) The Great Eating Disorder Bake Off. Available at: (Accessed: 29 September 2016)

Sorlie, C. (2013) Is Boredom More Than an Emotional Response to Lack of Occupation? Available at: (Accessed: 1 October 2016)

Taylor, B. and Davis, S. (2006) ‘Using the Extended PLISSIT Model to Address Sexual Healthcare Needs’, Nursing Standard, 21(11), pp. 35-40

Twinley, R. (2013) ‘The Dark Side of Occupation: a Concept for Consideration’, Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 60(4), pp. 301-303. DOI: 10.1111/1440-1630.12026

Wasmuth, S., Crabtree, J.L. and Scott, P.J. (2014) ‘Exploring Addiction-As-Occupation’, British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 77(12), pp. 605-613. DOI: 10.4276/030802214X14176260335264

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