Master’s degree students enrolled in Stony Brook University’s (SBU) Occupational Therapy Program recently kicked off their field placements with Options for Community Living Inc. Options’ operates residential programs for adults recovering from mental illness that provide stability, safety and support enabling them to develop their fullest potential for independent living. The agency currently provides supportive housing for more than 400 Long Islanders recovering from mental illness.
“They really helped me to see what’s blocking my progress,” said Options resident Matt about his experience working with Kristen Czelusniak (Farmingdale, NY), Lauren Flicker (Smithtown, NY) and Susanne Haaser (Selden, NY) – first year students in SBU’s Occupational Therapy Program. “We are happy to help each person work on their individual goals and work toward greater independence,” stated Haaser. As and occupational therapist, “you can build a relationship with your client/patient. You get to see their gradual progression. It’s more personal than seeing a doctor once or twice a year.”
This is the second year of the Options for Community Living and Stony Brook University collaboration. As part of their field placement, the Occupational Therapy (OT) students work with groups of residents and engage group members in meaningful activities to improve their skills. “We interview, evaluate and assess the physical barriers to individual success,” described Czelusniak. “We then establish an Occupational Therapy Profile for each person that details what we call their roles, goals and barriers. It takes into account their occupational experience and history, their interests, routines and environment.”
At Options, the OT students focused on skill development helpful to all of the group participants. “Last week, we worked on coping skills. Playing a card game is one way to take your mind away from unhealthy thoughts. Another technique involves becoming aware of negative thoughts and changing them into positive thoughts using a charting method,” said Czelusniak.
“We are delighted to partner with the Stony Brook students,” said Options for Community Living Executive Director Yolanda Robano-Gross. “Occupational therapy takes a person-centered approach to intervention which is vital to helping someone overcome barriers to success. These students are helping our residents grow more confident and independent.”