Therapeutic work refers to activities that are designed to improve an individual’s well-being. Such action-oriented therapy may be useful in a number of settings, from psychological counseling to occupational therapy. Work may refer to structured group settings where projects are undertaken, or it may reference the daily activities and duties that an individual encounters. Other forms of therapeutic work might include medically-backed employee placement programs or the session-to-session interactions between a therapist and his or her client.
Many counselors use therapeutic work as an important tool. These instances often consist of group therapy sessions in which several patients gather to undertake a task, typically during a scheduled stretch of time. Activities might include recreational applied activities like arts or crafts, or they may consist of a specific project, such as renovating a room. These sessions are often merged with traditional talk-based counseling to provide a more comprehensive therapeutic experience.
For some professions, therapeutic work is the primary means of fostering change. Occupational therapists, for example, help individuals who have suffered a physical or mental setback resume their normal daily lives. As such, these professionals focus on helping restore average functioning on everyday living and work tasks, ranging from taking a bath to going on a job interview. Play therapists, on the other hand, mainly help children express emotions and conduct tasks through structured playtime activities. Similarly, art therapists encourage expression through the activity of drawing or painting.
In a broader sense, therapeutic work may encompass all of the work that goes into developing a successful therapeutic outcome, and different types of therapeutic treatments facilitate different types of work. For example, many therapists request that their patients keep daily logs about various thoughts or feelings, particularly in cognitive therapies. A behavioral therapist, in a similar approach, might work with a patient in physically confronting a feared object or situation. Psychoanalysts, in contrast, might have a patient work with personally interpreting abstract objects or designs. Even the therapist-patient rapport established through talk-based counseling may be considered part of therapeutic work.
A main cornerstone behind therapeutic work is building self-esteem. Individuals who feel useful and independent have been shown to possess higher feelings of self-worth in many studies. The feelings of achievement gained from undertaking and successfully completing a task can bolster positive emotion. As such, some therapy programs offer work placement programs in areas such as retail stores as a form of therapeutic work.