#OTalk – 26th January 2021 – Anxiety and stress: what words matter to clients?

This weeks chat will be hosted by Sam Pywell, Lecturer in Occupational Therapist at the University of Central Lancashire  ‪@smileyfacehalo  

This year I am coming toward the end of a research project on anxiety and stress, and wanted to open up a debate which hasn’t been done before in our profession.  My research, which included answers from qualified occupational therapists in palliative care, has led me to believe there can be many ways to talk about anxiety and stress (regarding occupation) which have potential to impact clinical practice. Most importantly, we need to reflect on what our clients need and what words are important to them, and why. 

In rebuilding the world beyond the pandemic, with potentially more clients experiencing anxiety and stress and the option for remote consultations, it could be argued listening to the clients meaning and use of emotion words regarding their meaningful activities are even more important.  Even though telehealth has many benefits, several cues are missing within this environment compared to face to face (Srivastava, 2020).  Words, therefore, can hold significant meaning when considering what is said, and not said, within a therapeutic conversation (Archer et al., 2012).  Therefore when listening to a client (or colleagues) talk about anxiety and stress – what words have they stated and what have you assumed? 


  1. How do your clients talk about their anxiety and stress…what are their preferred words (and why?) 
  2. How do we help clients communicate their understanding and relationship of anxiety and stress with occupation (especially in a videocall or phone call) 
  3. What can we do to help clients when speaking about anxiety and stress? 


Archer, D., Aijmer, K., & Wichmann, A. (2012). Pragmatics: An advanced resource book for students. Routledge. 

Srivastava, R. (2020) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/14/there-is-a-poverty-of-body-language-in-telehealth-appointments-but-there-is-tenderness-too  

Thanks also to: The Institute of Social Psychiatry, UCLan, RCOT and OPC/ Major health conditions specialist section, the Elizabeth Casson Trust, The Constance Owens Trust, UCLan, Professor Dawn Archer (MMU), Dr. Hazel Roddam (UCLan), Professor Louise Connell (UCLan) and colleagues. 


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