Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Discovering Mr George Edward Barton and Consolation House

I was reading a little of a blog by a fellow O.T. entitled ABC Therapeutics. Browsing a few articles, a thread of posts on the history of OT caught my attention. I was fascinated to read about a Mr George Edward Barton and Consolation House. I had not heard of Mr Barton or Consolation House so decided to do a google search and happily found a photocopy which has been uploaded of an article featured in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy about Consolation House. It is an article of about 6 pages long. Sadly the copy I found has some words chopped due to the fold of the journal. However, the article is wonderful.

From the article I learned that Mr Barton had been ill and was hospitalized for a year. At the end of the year, the doctors introduced a Reverend Dr Elwood Wooster who had authored a book on "Religion and Medicine". The Reverend introduced Mr Barton to a new profession known as occupational therapy. 

Mr Barton was an architect by profession but unable to return to work due to his illness and disabilities. With his new found interest in occupational therapy, he purchased a property and developed the house, barn and garden initially for his own rehabilitation but opening up Consolation House to assist others too, in 1914. Opposite the property was the beginnings of the American OT Association, known at that time as the National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy with a primary focus on promoting the profession.

I loved reading the care that Mr Barton gave to the details of Consolation House. It's a project I would love to do if I only had the funding to. As to the focus on promotion of the profession, this is still a great need today. Now just over 100 years after the opening of Consolation House in New York, USA, there is still such a lack of understanding and appreciation for the profession. I wonder what could be done to bridge the gap so that OT can be appreciated by all and that those who need the services of this wonderful profession can be referred or know to request referral.

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of history of OT in the USA. It was certainly interesting for me to read it.

Shoshanah Shear
Occupational Therapist

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