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The Meaning of Everyday Occupation


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About the Author

Betty Risteen Hasselkus, PhD, OTR, FAOTA is an Emeritus Professor of Kinesiology/Occupational Therapy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she served as program director for 10 years. Prior to her faculty appointment, she earned a bachelor of science degree in occupational therapy, a master of science degree in physical education, and a doctor of philosophy degree at the University of Wisconsin. The hospital where she did much of her training and where she held her first position in occupational therapy is also the building where she was born, where her children were born, and where, ultimately, the academic program of occupational therapy was located during her faculty years.

During her more than 40 years of active participation in the profession of occupational therapy, Dr. Hasselkus has focused her research, teaching, and practice on the everyday occupational experience of people in the community, with a special emphasis on family caregiving for older family members, physician-family caregiver relationships, meanings of everyday occupation to dementia daycare staff, and the meaning of doing occupational therapy. She was elected to the American Occupational Therapy Association Roster of Fellows in 1986 and to the American Occupational Therapy Foundation Academy of Research in 1999. Dr. Hasselkus was the invited Wilma West Lecturer at the University of Southern California in 2003, presenting a lecture entitled, "The Voice of Everyday Occupation." In 2005, she was awarded the AOTA Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship Award-the Association's highest award for scholarship-and subsequently gave the award lecture in 2006, "The World of Everyday Occupation: Real People, Real Lives."

Dr. Hasselkus was editor of The American Journal of Occupational Therapy from 1998 to 2003. Her international reputation as a scholar has taken her to Australia, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Wales, and Northern Ireland, where she has provided lectures and workshops on qualitative research methods, critical analysis, writing, and qualitative research opportunities in everyday occupation. Her scholarly career includes more than 90 publications in journals and texts.


"She does not simply outline contemporary theories of occupation, but interweaves theory with real-life examples from clinicians, research, and her own life and from philosophical literature. The result is that theoretical ideas about occupation are embedded in the possibilities and experiences of everyday life, encouraging the reader to reflect on the veracity of theories and the relevance of traditional "categories" of occupation. Indeed, the book feels like a meditation on occupation. This is a thoughtful book and one that encourages its readers to ponder the nature of occupation and the contributions made by occupations to the quality of our lives. For this reason, the book would be useful and relevant to all occupational therapists who wish to explore and ponder the meaning of everyday occupation."

-- Karen Whalley Hammell, Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy
"This book is fabulously thought provoking and is recommended reading for all occupational therapists seeking to articulate the subtle nuances of how everyday occupations become imbued with meaning...She explores the role that occupation has in enabling us to be, to become and to belong, and her analysis is steeped with references to the work of eminent occupational therapists, anthropologists, psychologists, philosophers and sociologists... Her overarching message is that the experience of occupation is rich in meaning, regardless of any measurable outcome."

-Sue Parkinson, The British Journal of Occupational Therapy

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