SPOT’s new blogger and the somewhat ancient history of OT in Greece.

Greetings everyone! I am Emmanouela (or Emma for short) and from now on I will be the new SPOT blogger!

A little bit of information for me

I was born and raised in Athens, Greece and I am currently studying Occupational Therapy as a second year student at Metropolitan College in Athens. I hadn’t heard of SPOTeurope before the workshop about internalisation, that took place at the premises of Metropolitan College at Marousi Campus. It was then that, I knew I had to get involved. This experience in combination with my volunteering experience at the annual ENOTHE conference made me realise that I want to communicate more with OT students from all over Europe and expand my view of the “occupational world”!

Communication

You can contact me via the blogger’s email: blogger@spoteurope.eu , or via Instagram: Kanetakh.e!

Contact me whenever you want to talk about occupational therapy, share your story or experiences, share OT related information or current projects you or your university/college are working on etc. You can always become a guest blogger and with my help we can share your thoughts and experiences on our website! I will be more than happy if you joined me on this journey!

Historical preview of OT in Greece

Lena Surrou Kostaki

Besides getting to know me, this month’s blog includes and insight view of Occupational Therapy in Greece. I firmly believe that in order to approach a subject holistically one has not only to look for modern facts, but also to take a look in the past. The hidden history behind OT in Greece is intertwined, till this day, to the 1st Greek occupational therapist’s professional course. One of the greatest names of OT in Greece is the name of Lena Surrou Kostaki’s.

Asclepius

Before revealing any more information about her contribution to OT, I would like to take a moment and highlight that some of the first people who used “occupations” as a mean of therapy were Asclepius in 700 BC, who used music, singing and physical exercise as a treatment for psychological patients, Hippocrates around the 4th century BC, who had a humanitarian approach which included kindness, politeness and arts as well, and Asclepiads, a doctor and physiologist, around the 1st century BC, who established the humanitarian treatment for psychological patients using therapeutic baths, massage, exercise and music. Even though these mindsets didn’t last long we can see that they were a great first start for the foundation of Occupational Therapy.

So, a long time after these statements and theories took place, around the 1950s’ Mrs. Kostaki began her journey and remarkable work. Looking back in one of her speeches, she gave away a lot of information about this remarkable and hard-to-achieve start of OT in Greece. She once narrated the first ever actions to have taken place in Greece, which were volunteering OT services organised by O’Caffrey to rehabilitate handicapped former soldiers. These services took place in some military hospitals of Athens, in psychiatric hospitals, in sanatoriums for people affected from tuberculosis etc. These structures were staffed with volunteers from the Greek Red Cross. As she has declared, the first certificated occupational therapist in Greece was Mrs. Roula Gregoriadou who was also volunteering for the Red Cross in one of its hospitals. Later on, in 1954 the rehabilitation centre for handicapped kids at Voula (PIKPA- ΠΙΚΠΑ) was founded. Right after this foundation both Mrs. Kostaki and Mrs. Gregoriadou trained the second and third generation of volunteers in OT, who were sisters in the Red Cross (in 1956-57 and 1960-61 respectively).

Mrs. Sofia Anesti
Mrs. Lena Kostaki
Mrs. Anna Deligiani

Another key reference point has always been the year 1955 when the World Health Organisation sent an occupational therapist in Greece to check on the institutions there. The general secretary of the Health and Provision ministry organised a meeting and included Mrs. Kostaki as a translator. This opportunity given to her meant the start of the first steps for the creation of a school solely for Occupational Therapy, despite the public opinion of creating one school for both occupational therapy and physiotherapy. It took almost 22 years when in 1977 Mrs. Kostaki created the first department of Occupational Therapy in a technological Educational Institute and with Mrs. Sofia Anesti and Mrs. Anna Deligiani they were the first ones to staff it. Almost 3 years later Mrs. Sofia Anesti was nominated to represent Greece in COTEC and Mrs. Kostaki was her spokeswoman. Finally another great achievement was noted when Mrs. Kostaki made it in ENOTHE, when it was first founded, as a member of the board of directors. To recapitulate, even though the first signs of use of occupations as treatments were spotted a couple of centuries BC the official start in Greece began with Mrs. Kostaki and a lot of other remarkable OT’s back in the 1950s’.

Modern perspective and evolution of OT: An insight view

The progress in the field is constant and moving rapidly as the years pass so it’s high time I highlighted more about how far OT has come in the last few decades. Now moving forward to some modern facts regarding OT in Greece, I didn’t do any research because I thought the best way to transmit this knowledge to you is by sharing personal experiences from OT students from Greece. Having carefully read and examined their answers to some questions asked I have summed up a conclusion and added some more general knowledge.

General information

Generally, in Greece, occupational therapists need to have specialised education in order to work in specialised centres such as neurological, psychological, paediatric, geriatric and centres for displaced people. The latter one is only recently developing in Greece since, unfortunately, almost 60.000 displaced people are located all over the country but this is also highlighted as a great emerging aspect of OT in Greece. One interesting and important fact about OT revolving around the labor market is that there is zero unemployment rate at the moment, meaning that once an OT degree holder tries to find a suitable work place, he or she will find one quickly and work on his or hers already grounded knowledge. However the progress in the field of occupational therapy in Greece has been great over the past few decades there is still enough room for improvement. For example, 50% of the country’s occupational therapists are using the top down approach and only the other half is using the bottom up one. This leads to services where clients receive less personalised treatment. This is one of the most important aspect of OT in Greece that we, younger occupational therapists and practitioners, should work on.

Student’s perspective

Metropolitan College, Campus, Marousi

Representatives from almost every year answered some questions asked about their experiences as students from the Metropolitan College, which I put together so you can have a comprehensive idea of how it is like being an OT student from Greece! So here are the questions and answers given:

What’s the reason behind choosing to study as an OT student?

Some of the most common reasons to choose OT as a profession amongst students is the diversity of opportunities provided and the uniqueness of it! A couple of other students also mentioned that the opportunity to help clients rebuilt their lives is a fulfilling experience and one you want to be a part of! Lately, as the rapid evolution of OT is clearly noticeable in Greece, as well as everywhere else, students are more intrigued to be involved in than they would want for any other profession. And, last but not least, there is a wide field of expertise regarding OT so the opportunities revolving around the labor market are almost endless, which makes it another great option, the students state.

How did you learn about Occupational Therapy?

Most of the students had heard about it at school and it “seemed an interesting profession” so they searched more information and watched youtube videos for it and they became even more interested! Some of them, though, mentioned they had seen occupational therapists work, due to incidents in their families, and were particularly keen on learning more and ultimately being involved. Lastly, there was one student who mentioned about a beloved member of the family who was an occupational therapist that made them even more familiar with the profession and affected their decision!

How did you learn about SPOTeurope

Despite not being globally known yet, Greek students are quite familiar with it! Most of them got to learn about it and meet the student board in person during the workshop and the annual ENOTHE conference which took place in Greece earlier this fall. Besides that, a lot of other students got in contact with their lecturers and tutors who informed them about the SPOT and its action plan! Last but not least there were few reports regarding the Media and especially Facebook, one of the three platforms the SPOT’s Social Media Lead [Emma] is currently spreading the word on!

What do you think about the campus’ facilities and the e-platform?

The campus’ facilities are consisted of spacious rooms for classes, modern equipment such as computers, projectors and specially modified items (suitable for work-alike stimulations) and a library with hundreds of books of every profession, beautifully constructed to inspire to you to study!

The e-platform is fully functional and quite helpful for studying because it provides you with easy to access and neatly organised folders for every class. It also enables an easier and less time consuming way for communication between both students and tutors. Plus the students, even if they are absent, they can always download the lectures and not miss them. A student also pointed out that handing over papers on the e-platform not only saves us more time but it is more definately user and environmentally friendly.

What do you think about the curriculum and what is your favourite subject and why?

The curriculum is remarkable and provides strong theoretical foundations which enable an OT student to become a knowledgeable, experienced and qualified occupational therapist. It also provides us with the ability to work abroad as a qualified OT. Moreover a valid point everybody mentioned was the existence of 4 practice placements which provide a holistic approach and view of OT (clinical reasoning, assessment tools, theoretical frame of reference etc.).

 I hope you enjoyed this informative blog and I look forward to talking to you soon!

Kind regards,

Emmanouela!

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