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Eat. Sleep. Love. OT. Kawa Writeup

Eat. Sleep. Love. OT. Kawa Writeup

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by August 7, 2016 Online Articles

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We have been instructed to use the current communities we are in and apply the Kawa model to it, now for those of you who don not know what the KAWA model is, here is a little crash course..

“The Kawa model attempts to explain occupational therapy’s overall purpose, strategies for interpreting a client’s circumstances and clarify the rationale and application of occupational therapy within the client’s particular social and cultural context”

(Iwama, 2007)

(Hampson, 2012)

This model uses the metaphor of a river as a symbolic reference to life, each component of the river represents a different aspect in that persons life, the KAWA model composes of:

1. Water- the water is representative of life . “Just as people’s lives are bounded and shaped by their surroundings, people and circumstances, the water flowing as a river touches the rocks, sides and banks and all other elements that form its context. Water envelopes, defines and effects these other elements of the river in a similar way to which the same elements effect the water’s volume, shape and flow rate”  (Iwama, 2007)

The flowing of the river is symbolic to the energy in that persons/peoples life, if they are unwell their river may be flowing slowly, if there is disruption in the community the community river may slow down.

2. River sides and bottom: “In the Kawa model, the river walls and sides represent the subject’s social and physical contexts. The social context comprises mainly those who share a relationship with the subject” (Iwama, 2007) Having relationships that are harmonious may result in a a grater and faster flow in water , which may assist in removing rocks from the river, bad and harmful relationship may decrease the flow in the river, the walls and bottom shape the way the river will flow, the force it will flow at and weather for not rocks ( challenges) will be able to be moved or overcome.

3. Rocks: these represent circumstances and situations which affect ones life flow. Rocks may be one huge rock in the way ( e.g. poor service delivery to the community”(Iwama, 2007) or many small rocks which are jammed packs and disrupt the flow of the river ( unemployment—-> drug abuse —->crime). These rocks will affect the flow of the water by creating rapids, slowing down the water flow and peoples lives.

4. driftwood: This represents the resources, personalities and traits of a person , their skills, their home environment. In a river driftwood can be negative or positive, it may add to a blockage or it may work as a leaver to move rocks down the river, the same works with people, stubbornness may be a personality trait which can either assist or inhibit getting though a problem.

5. The space between obstacles: this is an area where life can still flow, the block has tiny spaces in which water can still pass, this represents the hope, they provide opportunity for someone to come in and assist in moving the rocks, these are the areas us OT will come in and work on in order to restore the life flow again. Without hope there is no life and without safe there is no flow.

The KAWA model is an amazing model which enables OT’s to get rich information from clients , communities and to focus intervention on issues that are relevant to them, it allows for client centred treatment which is something us as OT need to focus on because we often go in and treat without considering what is important to the client, and the clients needs.

I look forward to using this model in the future

Untill next time


Hampson, H. (2012, July 8). The OT process. From

Iwama, M. K. (2007). The Kawa Model. Retrieved February 17, 2014 from The Kawa Model- Culturally relevant Occupatioanl Therpay:

Note: We could not locate the author. If you know who she is please give us a shout.


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