Dating as an Occupation: Swipe Right for OT

Karen McCarthy, University College Cork, Ireland


Background As occupational therapists (OTs) we claim to treat our clients holistically, yet despite research indicating the importance of sexuality in practice (White et al 1992, Northcott and Chard 2000) sexuality and the occupations surrounding it, such as dating, can often be ignored in practice. Sexuality is expressed through many forms including sexual activity, self care and dating. As OTs, how often do we acknowledge or actively address a client’s desire to find a partner and the occupations that surround such a goal? Krishnagiri discusses “mate selection” as an important occupation with rich cultural and personal significance to the person (Krishnagiri, 1996). By failing to adequately respond to and include dating occupations in our clients’ goals and priorities, we run the risk of not practicing in a client centered and holistic manner. Methods An analysis of occupational science literature will be conducted to argue the relevance of dating as an occupation. Case stories and sample dating coaching interventions will be discussed. Intervention Examples from client case stories surrounding dating goals and interventions will be shared. Outcomes Client outcomes will be explored through narratives and individual goal attainment. Implications When it comes to the occupation of dating or mate selection, OTs are key professionals in helping clients to achieve their goals in this area. OTs can embrace dating coaching as part of their existing practice and implications for specialising in dating coaching will be discussed.