Document Type

Student Paper

Publication Date



Objective. The purpose of this qualitative study was to gather information about the history and evolution of occupational therapy (OT) practice, guided by the Kawa Model. The life history of Jan Nelson was one of 31 life history interviews conducted apart of a larger project of Life Histories of Individuals Who Have Been Influential in Developing Occupational Therapy in North Dakota and Wyoming.

Method. An hour and a half semi-structured interview was completed with Jan Nelson and two OT student researchers. From the interview data, the student researchers created themes that were meaningful to Jan Nelson’s life and OT career.

Results. There were 16 codes identified from the data and the codes were placed into three categories. From the categories, the themes were created, and then a final assertion was made about Jan Nelson’s life and career.

Conclusion. Important aspects of Jan Nelson’s career included: personal attributes, approaches to practice, and personal experiences. Jan Nelson’s journey has led her to further her education and create her own practice using holistic OT approaches guided by her past experiences. Through her holistic practice, Jan Nelson has helped multiple clients succeed in reaching their goals.

Keywords: complementary medicine, approaches, non-traditional OT, Kawa Model