Occupational Therapy Postgraduate Courses

These individual courses are available for both occupational therapists and non-occupational therapists and can be studied individually for professional development reasons. You will be awarded a Certificate in Proficiency upon successful completion or may choose to complete further courses towards a full postgraduate qualification.

About the programme

These postgraduate courses form the content of the postgraduate qualifications that we offer: 

All courses are at Level 8 and most courses are 30 credits (although some have 10 or 20 credit options available).

Some courses have an intake in February and some have an intake in July. Please check the individual courses below for more info. 

Please note: All courses offered are subject to minimum enrolment.

Vocational Rehabilitation

Dates
  • February - June 2022
  • July - November 2022 
Learning outcomes

Assisting an individual to return to work is a complex task requiring an in-depth and broad understanding of not only rehabilitation, but also the broader context of the workplace. This course aims to assist students to be evidence-based in their planning and delivery of return-to-work programmes within the New Zealand bicultural context.

Please note: PC/PD434001 meets the 30 credits of postgraduate study as required by ACC and documented in Section 3.4 of the ACC document "Skills and Competencies Requirement for Vocational Rehabilitation Services".

At the successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Design and evaluate individual vocational rehabilitation programmes relevant for the New Zealand bicultural context
  • Critically appraise the influences that can impact on the individual’s reintegration into the workforce
  • Evaluate own strengths and areas for growth in the provision of return to work programmes
Indicative content
  • Ethics issues relevant to vocational rehabilitation
  • Influences of external drivers, for example, legislation and labour market issues
  • Vocational assessments
  • Strategies to enable successful progressive return to work
  • Career employment counselling and career transition management
  • Intervention strategies to facilitate a return to work, to obtain new employment
  • Negotiation and mediation skills
  • Post reintroduction support/guidance
  • Vocational services management.
Assessment
  • Written Assessment 1 - worth 30%
  • Written Assessment 2 - worth 70%
Lecturer profile

Helen Jeffery 
MOccTher(Merit), DipOT, PGDipOccTherPractice (Dist), NZROT
Helen.Jeffery@op.ac.nz
Senior Lecturer

I have been an occupational therapist since 1982 and have maintained strong links with the profession since that time despite having extended periods away from practice for travel and adventuring.

Whilst the bulk of my practice has been in the mental health field (community and inpatient, acute and rehabilitation) I have also worked in physical rehab and community settings, and in vocational rehabilitation.  My involvement with the occupational therapy school at Otago Polytechnic has been on an occasional and casual basis over many years, and more formal since joining the team here as a lecturer in 2012.

Negotiated Study

Date
  • February - June 2022
  • July - November 2022
Credits

10, 20 and 30 credit options available

Learning outcomes

This course enables students to explore both theoretical and practical knowledge in a chosen area of interest.

At the completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Negotiate and complete an investigation on a selected topic relevant to practice in the New Zealand bicultural context
  • Retrieve, interpret, analyse and evaluate information on a selected topic of special interest to your practice
Content and process

The content of this course will vary depending on your area of interest. The process undertaken will be as follows:

  • Negotiate learning contracts
  • Contribution to peer learning
  • Effective use of feedback to enhance academic skills
  • Presenting learning
  • Annotated bibliography
Assessment
  • The content and presentation of the assessment will be clearly documented in the learning contract.
Lecturer

Sian Griffiths 
PhD candidate, MSc (Rehabilitation Engineering), Dip COT, NZROT
Sian.griffiths@op.ac.nz

Principal Lecturer/Honours & Postgraduate Programmes Coordinator

Adventure Therapy - Theory and application to practice

Date
  • February - June 2022
Learning outcomes

This course will provide students with theory and frameworks that will enable use of adventure therapy approaches in their practice in mental health, justice, education and wellbeing fields of practice.

At the completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Critically analyse theories related to the use of adventurous activities, natural environments and experiential learning in health, wellbeing and education practice environments
  • Evaluate the use of and effectiveness of adventure therapy interventions within the New Zealand bicultural context
  • Develop intervention strategies based on adventure therapy principles for a specific practice environment
Content
  • Critical reflection of engagement in or observation of an adventure-based learning experience
  • Application of the theories and strategies learned in the course within your own professional discipline
  • Use of experimental learning in activity-based therapy, utilising adventurous and non-adventurous activities
  • Exploring Māori perspectives within adventure therapy programming Māori
Assessment
  • Written Assessment 1 - worth 30%
  • Written Assessment 2 - worth 70%
Lecturer profile

Helen Jeffery
MOccTher(Merit), PG DipOT, GCTLT(level7), NZROT
Helen.jeffery@op.ac.nz
Senior Lecturer/Postgraduate Programmes Lead

I have been an occupational therapist since 1982 and have maintained strong links with the profession since that time despite having extended periods away from practice for travel and adventuring. Whilst the bulk of my practice has been in the mental health field (community and inpatient, acute and rehabilitation) I have also worked in physical rehab and community settings, and in vocational rehabilitation. My involvement with the occupational therapy school at Otago Polytechnic has been on an occasional and casual basis over many years, and more formal since joining the team here as a lecturer in 2012.

Research for Practice

Date
  • February - June 2022
Learning outcomes

The nature of this course is to ensure that students are able to justify the selection and use of appropriate research methods for practice within the New Zealand bicultural context.

At the completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Critique published research related to one area of practice
  • Justify the use of both qualitative and quantitative methods to explore a research topic
  • Analyse ethics relevant to a research  topic including issues of bicultural and sustainable practice in New Zealand
Content
  • Different approaches to and assumptions implicit in research related to practice
  • Methodologies (Quantitative and Qualitative), methods and their consistency with different world views
  • Strategies such as reliability, validity, trustworthiness and rigour and their uses to enhance/ensure the quality of research
  • Assess published research
Assessment
  • Written Assessment 1 - worth 30%
  • Written Assessment 2 - worth 70% 

Using Sensory Processing Principles with Diverse Populations

Date
  • February - June 2022
Learning outcomes

This course will enable students to be theoretically up-to-date and equipped to evaluate the need for, and benefits of, applying theories of sensory processing with diverse populations in a range of child, adolescent and adult settings within the New Zealand bicultural context.

At the successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the relationships between neuroscience theory, sensory processing, human behaviour and occupational engagement
  • Justify proposed or existing interventions using sensory processing theories
  • Critically evaluate the research evidence used to justify the application of sensory processing theories to enhance occupational engagement within the New Zealand bicultural context
Indicative content
  • Overview of central nervous system structures and functions
  • Evolution of sensory processing theories
  • Principles of sensory processing theories
  • Evidence to support effectiveness of sensory processing interventions
  • Considerations related to the use of sensory processing theories within the New Zealand bicultural context
Assessment
  • Written Assessment 1 - worth 30%
  • Written Assessment 2 - worth 70%
Lecturer profile

Rita Robinson
Doctoral Candidate, MOccTher, DipOT, NZROT, GCTLT (L7)
Rita.Robinson@op.ac.nz
Principal Lecturer

I am fascinated how our ability to attend to, make sense of and integrate information from our senses ultimately shapes our behaviour. Before I moved into teaching, my practice experience was predominantly with children and adolescents with developmental disabilities, many who experienced sensory modulation and coordination challenges. In working with this population I drew from the principles of sensory integration (according to Ayres) in both direct service delivery and the consultative model in schools. We all have sensory profiles which make us who we are, therefore I currently pull on this knowledge as I strive to optimise the learning environment for the occupational therapy students I teach. In addition, this knowledge informs me on a personal level at home when modifying, accommodating and seeking to understand my own children’s individuality, let alone my own sensory quirks!

While not experienced in working in mental health, I have a strong understanding of using the theory to inform reasoning. A range of guest lecturers who have experience with mental health are used within this course. I am interested in hearing your practice stories which add real life context to this learning experience.

Motivation and Behavioural Change

Date
  • July - November 2022
Learning outcomes

Occupational therapy uses engagement in activity to assist people to change behaviours. While for some people change is essential to enable living with an acquired illness or disability, for others, change is desirable to improve health and wellness; for example, increasing amount of exercise, increasing socialisation, decreasing drug use (alcohol, nicotine, illicit drugs) or changing eating behaviours.

The aim of this course is to provide postgraduate students with frameworks that will enhance their interventions when working with people presenting with issues related to motivation and behavioural change within the New Zealand bi-cultural context.

At the completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Critically review theories related to motivation and behavioural change drawn from a range of differing health professionals' literature including positive psychology and addictions.
  • Critically evaluate the effectiveness of interventions drawing on theories introduced in this course within the New Zealand bi-cultural context.
Content and process

Guiding frameworks and theories for practice:

  • Selected theories and frameworks appropriate for use in practice
  • Model of Human Occupation
  • Kawa Model approaches to motivation and change.

Theories of Motivation and Behavioural Change

  • Circle of Change
  • Positive Psychology
  • Exploring what motivates self and others to change their behaviour
  • Exploring Māori perspectives on motivation and change.

Strategies

  • Motivational interviewing as a mechanism for developing and sustaining the motivation for change
  • Working with resistance to change
  • Using occupation/activity to motivate and support change.

Assessment

  • Written Assessment 1 - worth 30%
  • Written Assessment 2 - worth 70%
Lecturer profile

Jackie Herkt 
MHSc (Hons), DipOT, NDAdEdT(L5), NZROT
Jackie.herkt@op.ac.nz 
Principal Lecturer

Trauma Informed Practice

Date
  • July - November 2022
Learning outcomes

The nature of this course is to ensure that students are provided with the theories and frameworks to be able to enhance an individual's capacity to manage the effects of trauma. 

At the completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Critically analyse the theories relating to developmental trauma disorder and it's ongoing impact on the stress response and on body function
  • Evaluate the application of trauma informed practice at each stage of a recognised service delivery model from your practice setting
  • Critically evaluate the use of and effectiveness of intervention strategies used by the individual
Content
  • Theories and strategies to implement when working with affected individuals
  • Neuroscience
  • Environmental factors
  • Personal factors such as resilience and social networks
  • Cultural perspectives within trauma informed practice
Assessment
  • Written Assessment 1 - worth 30%
  • Written Assessment 2 - worth 70%
Lecturer profile

Ema Tokolahi  
PhD, MSc, PGCert, BHSc (hons)
ema.tokolahi@op.ac.nz
Lecturer

Ema has worked in mental health services for children, adolescents and adults, in community and inpatient environments, where trauma-informed care played a significant role. She completed her doctoral research at Auckland University of Technology researching the impact of a preventative occupational therapy intervention on children's wellbeing in the school environment. She currently works as a lecturer with the school of occupational therapy.

Low Vision Rehabilitation

Date
  • Not running 2022
Learning outcomes

The aim of this course is to assist students to be evidence-based in their planning and delivery of low vision services within the New Zealand bicultural context.

This course will cover causes and functional implication of visual impairment, functional and dynamic screening, assessment and a range of interventions.

At the completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Critically appraise the issues that can impact on the individual's capacity to use remaining vision effectively.
  • Design and evaluate individual low vision programmes relevant for the New Zealand bicultural context. 
  • Evaluate own strengths and areas for growth in the provision of low vision programmes.
Indicative content
  • Causes and functional implications of low vision
  • Theories and classification of visual functioning
  • Visual task analysis
  • Psychological and social implications
  • Low vision assessments
  • Low vision devices
  • Strategies to use remaining vision
  • Low vision rehabilitation
  • Effective collaboration
Assessment
  • Written Assessment 1 - worth 30%
  • Written Assessment 2 - worth 70%
Lecturer profile

To be confirmed  

Cognitive Approaches Across the Life Span

Date
  • Not running 2022
Learning outcomes

This course provides students with the opportunity to explore in depth current occupational therapy treatment approaches.  In addition, the student will further their understanding of the theories from other disciplines (for example cognitive psychology) that has informed the development of the occupational therapy specific treatment approaches.

At the completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Discuss the contributions of a a range of theories  to the occupational therapists understanding of cognition.
  • Discuss the influence of cognitive skills such as arousal, attention, memory discrimination and insight nd how this influences occupational engagement.
  • Compare and contrast current occupational therapy treatment approaches across the life span.
Content and process

The content of this course will vary depending on your area of interest. The process undertaken will be as follows:

  • Negotiate learning contracts
  • Contribution to peer learning
  • Effective use of feedback to enhance academic skills
  • Presenting learning
  • Annotated bibliography
Assessment
  • The content and presentation of the assessment will be clearly documented in the learning contract.
Lecturer

Rita Robinson
PhD, MOccTher, DipOT, NZROT, GCTLT (L7)
Rita.Robinson@op.ac.nz
Principal Lecturer

Reasoning in Fast-Paced Environments

Date
  • Not running 2022 
Learning outcomes

The aim of this course is to ensure that therapists/health workers in practice areas that have restricted client contact, feel positive about their ability to assess well and contribute effectively to patient outcomes.

At the completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Debate the ethical issues in rapid decision-making
  • Evaluate the impact of the practice environment (including the MDT) on assessment and bicultural considerations
  • Justify occupational therapy intervention to managers of the service
Content
  • Occupational therapy reasoning / the place of intuition
  • Being client centered
  • Client education in limited time frames
  • Working in Biomedical / managerial environments
  • Using evidence in daily decisions
  • Ethical issues in fast decision making
  • Managing risk vs patient autonomy
  • Maintaining an occupation focus in clinical reasoning when discharge is imminent
  • Assessments suitable for fast-paced environments
  • The impact of the practice environment (including MDT) on assessment and bicultural considerations
  • Overview of models of discharge / transition
  • Preparing new graduates to work in fast-paced environments and supervision implications
Assessment
  • Written Assessment 1 - worth 30%
  • Written Assessment 2 - worth 70%
Lecturer profile
  • To be confirmed  

A change for 2023 enrolments

When you apply to study with Otago Polytechnic in 2023, you will be enrolled with Te Pūkenga, the new national network of vocational and applied education in Aotearoa New Zealand. You will learn in the same way, in the same place, and with the same people. The great news is that this enables us to share skills and knowledge across a network of passionate education providers, to better help you succeed. Enrolling in programmes that start in 2023, means that you will graduate with a Te Pūkenga qualification.

Disclaimer

While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative ONLY. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.