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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, Volume 48, Issue 11, November/Deecember 1994, Pages 1082-1088.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.5014/ajot.48.11.1082. Copyright © American Occupational Therapy Association


Occupational therapy practice has bridged two contradictory value systems for more than 100 years. This article describes the origins of practice ideas in both the United States and Britain and demonstrates that founding members of the occupational therapy profession all shared a core of humanistic beliefs while embracing the emerging paradigm of scientific medicine. The result has been an intellectual tension between the biological and the psychosocial aspects of practice. For more than 75 years, occupational therapists struggled to balance the art and science of patient care; recent debates on modalities, practice domains, and research priorities indicate that the unifying core of the profession is occupation that considers a person's mind and body.

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