Senior Project Advisor

Kathleen Brian

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2021


occupational therapy, OT, cooking, graphic medicine, illness narrative, healthcare communication, health, healthcare, communication, comics, graphic narratives, cookery, culinary, intervention, occupation, medical humanities, zine, food, culture, worksheet, guide, visual, art, artistic, design, graphic design, digital art, introduction, interview, patient, practitioner, allied healthcare, quality of life, independence, adults, physiotherapy, design thinking, evidence-based practice, research, open access


Access to the full guide found here:

Occupational therapy (OT) is an allied healthcare profession that is uniquely situated at the intersection of art and science. OT seeks to improve quality of life by addressing occupations, or daily activities that are meaningful and purposeful (Nelson, 2014). In order to accomplish these goals, occupational therapists (OTs) must use design thinking through the lens of evidence-based practice. This artistic creativity paired with well-researched scientific findings mimics the visual nature of this guide, which prioritizes this need for alternative representation of the sciences.

This visual guide focuses on the interconnectivity of culture, therapy, and food to support the idea that care is a group endeavor. The audience of this guide might consist of all members of a care team, including patients, care-partners, and practitioners. It is important that the voice of the person accessing the OT services is elevated, but it is also essential to recognize that navigating this system of discipline-specific practitioners is not easy to do alone. Self-advocacy is a priority, though it does not always take the shape of speaking up alone, which is often the perception in the Western biomedical model of healthcare. The Joy of Cooking with OTs actively counteracts these assumptions.

This tactile, interactive-style guide is designed to be written in, torn apart, and, more generally, experienced. This commitment to highlighting experiences as evidence encourages the viewer to question their assumptions about the therapeutic process and their relationship with food. Through the use of graphic representation to portray an illness narrative, inspired by multiple interviews with current patients and practitioners, this experience is reflected in several ways.

It is also an ode to the creative, client-centered approach of occupational therapy. This may include working with individuals so they can to “do what they want and need to do” (Alex Neukirch, OTR/L) while remaining independent in their home, managing a chronic disease, or developing socioemotional skills as a child. OTs must create interventions specifically tailored to the individual and their daily activities, wants, and needs pertaining to their physical, social, or cognitive function. This unique emphasis on what makes an individual who they are parallels the ability of the guide to create a partnership between the guide creator and the reader by building a visual world for them to explore.


Health and Human Development

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Occupational therapy--Handbooks, manuals, etc.; Occupational therapy--Social aspects; Cooking--Handbooks, manuals, etc.; Technical manuals--Authorship; Technical manuals--Illustrations






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