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Episode 103: Getting Student-Centered with the CO-OP Approach

OT School House Podcast Episode 72 journal club how much of school is fine motor anyways?

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Welcome to the show notes for Episode 103 of the OT Schoolhouse Podcast.

Are you constantly wondering how to be more evidence-based when working in a school setting?

In this episode of the OT Schoolhouse Podcast, we discuss how using client-centered top-down approaches will allow for more evidence-based practices and what top-down approaches look like with children in the schools. We are speaking with the creator of the CO-OP approach, Helene Polatajko, Ph.D., OT Reg. (Ont.), OT(C), FCAOT, FCAHS, OC, and the creator of “A Guide for Implementation: Using the Principles of CO-OP to Frame a Top-Down Approach with School-Aged Children,” Lara Collins Barros, OTD, OTR/L.

Guests' Bios

Helene Polatajko, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.), OT(C), FCAOT, FCAHS, OC

Helene Polatajko is an international occupational therapy scholar whose work focuses on occupations and enablement. She has over 300 publications, is the co-author to the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM), and created and developed the Cognitive Orientation to daily Occupational performance approach (CO-OP). She has presented in over 20 countries and has received many awards and distinctions, such as being named a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the Muriel Driver Lectureship, and election to The American Occupational Therapy Foundation’s Academy of Research.

Lara Collins Barros, OTD, OTR/L

Lara has been a school-based OT in the Chicagoland area for over 25 years. When completing her OTD at NYU with the mentorship of Dr. Polatjko, she created and developed the CO-OP Principles for Participation which is an evidence-based guide for implementation that uses the principles of CO-OP for school-aged children with a top-down approach.

What you will Learn

  • Listeners will learn the principles and guidelines of the CO-OP approach and how they apply to school-based OT

  • Listeners will learn how the CO-OP was developed

  • Listeners will learn the difference between the behavioral approach and the cognitive approach

  • Listeners will learn more about top-down approaches

  • Listeners will learn about guided discovery and the role a supportive adult plays in the process.


“I created these guidelines to show there is a way to be evidence-based in the schools” -Lara Barros

“We want to learn something to know what we can do. Not to know what won't work” -Jayson Davies

“Collecting your own evidence is so important”-Lara Barros

“CO-OP is problem-solving. You have a goal and have a kid get as specific as possible… and observe the actual performance”- Lara Barros

“In CO-OP, generalization is a major focus. Taking the skill, whatever that skill happens to be, into the place that it needs to be in the real world, and building on that skill so generalization transfers” - Dr. Polatajko

“The thing about guided discovery is being very careful about just the right challenge” - Dr. Polatajko

“By doing the task you will improve the component skills” -Dr. Polatajko


Be sure to subscribe to the OT Schoolhouse email list & get access to our free downloads of Gray-Space paper and the Occupational Profile for school-based OTs. Subscribe now!

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