The Kawa Model

Culturally Relevant Occupational Therapy


  • Michael Iwama, PhD, MSc, BScOT, BSc, Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

A landmark publication in occupational therapy and a significant contribution to the rehabilitation theory literature! The Kawa Model presents a new conceptual model of practice that differs from contemporary theories in regard to: origin (East Asia), underlying philosophical base (East Asia), being heavily infused with a natural-ecological, holistic world view, and relational structure. The model is based on the metaphor of nature (a river) that stands for the meanings of life. Because of the familiarity of the metaphor, to both therapists and clients alike, the Kawa Model is relatively easy to comprehend, remarkably simple, yet comprehensive and effective. Unlike other models, it was raised from clinical practice, by practitioners, through a process of qualitative research methods. It is the first conceptual model and substantial theoretical work of occupational therapy from outside of the Western world.
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Book information

  • Published: July 2006
  • ISBN: 978-0-443-10234-9

Table of Contents

Chapter1 - Situating occupational therapy's knowledge: why alternative conceptualisations and models of occupational therapy are required

Chapter 2 - Cross-cultural concepts as the building blocks of conceptual models: occupation

Chapter 3 - Occupational therapy theory: cultural inclusion and exclusion

Chapter 4 - Context and theory: culteral antecedents of the Kawa model part 1

Chapter 5 - Context and theroy: culteral antecedents of the Kawa model part 2

Chapter 6 - Raising a new, culturally relevant conceptual model of occupational therapy from practice

Chapter 7 - An overview of the Kawa model

Chapter 8 - Applying the Kawa model: comprehending occupation in context

Chapter 9 - Rivers in context: brief narratives and cases demonstrating uses of the Kawa model 

Chapter 10 - Towards culturally relevant and safe theroy in occupational therapy