Relationship-based OT Care: Evidence and Discussion with Rafi Salazar (CE Course)

Relationship-based OT with Rafi Salazar
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Course Description

Released June 14, 2021 from Aurora, NE

You probably spent a lot of time learning about “therapeutic use of self” during OT school. As it turns out, this phrase is just one of many frameworks that describe the relationship between therapists and patients. Over the past decade, many other relationship models have been developed and studied. This course will orient you to various concepts for understanding your relationship with patients, as well as how the different therapeutic relationships may ultimately influence outcomes.

After diving into a journal article reviewing the literature on relationship-based care, we’ll invite Rafi Salazar to join us in discussing the practical clinical implications of the findings.

Rafi has boots-on-the-ground experience with building strong therapist-patient relationships, as well as a 1000-foot perspective on how you can systematize strong relationships in your practice.

Primary Research Explored

When you log in, be sure to check out the OT Potential Club’s written breakdown of the following research article, then share your questions and thoughts with fellow practitioners.

Babatunde F, MacDermid J, MacIntyre N. Characteristics of therapeutic alliance in musculoskeletal physiotherapy and occupational therapy practice: a scoping review of the literature. BMC Health Serv Res. 2017 May 30;17(1):375. doi: 10.1186/s12913-017-2311-3. Erratum in: BMC Health Serv Res. 2017 Dec 12;17 (1):820. PMID: 28558746; PMCID: PMC5450083.

Secondary Research 

Weiste, E. (2017). Relational interaction in occupational therapy: Conversation analysis of positive feedback. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 25(1), 44–51.

Fan, C.-W., Carstensen, T., Småstuen, M. C., Yazdani, F., Ellingham, B., & Bonsaksen, T. (2020). Occupational Therapy Students’ Self-Efficacy for Therapeutic Use of Self:  Development and Associated Factors. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 4(1).

Learning Objectives

  • Based on the research, you will be able to describe various frameworks for understanding the therapist-client relationship.
  • Based on the research, you will be able to identify various assessments for measuring the strength of the therapist-client relationship.


Intro (5 minutes)

Breakdown and analysis of journal article (10 minutes)

  • The article’s definition of “therapeutic alliance”
  • Why was this paper written?
  • What frameworks, theories, and models related to therapeutic alliance were identified?
  • What assessments were used to measure the strength of therapeutic alliance?
  • What settings/conditions were studied the most?
  • How did therapeutic alliance impact outcomes?
  • Authors’ conclusion and recommendations
  • Takeaways for OT practitioners

Discussion on practical implications for OTs (with guest Rafi Salazar) (45 minutes)

  • Of the various therapist-client relationship frameworks mentioned in the article, which do you think are most relevant for OTs?
  • What are some of the key OT-related takeaways from these frameworks?
  • The article specifically mentioned three things as being essential to strong therapist-client relationships. Do you agree that they are essential?
    • Agreement on the goals of treatment
    • Agreement on the tasks 
    • Personal bond between therapist and client
  • If you do agree that the aforementioned points are essential, how can we as therapists improve on all three?
  • Are there any other “quick wins” for therapists to build strong relationships with clients?
  • Thinking of the big picture, what are 1-2 things that you think every therapy clinic should be doing to systemize strong relationships?
  • In 5 years, how would you like to see OT advance in its understanding and implementation of strong relationship-building?

Contact Hours

1 hour (0.1 AOTA CEUs)

Target Audience/Educational Level

Our target audience is occupational therapy practitioners who are looking to establish a baseline understanding of where the research stands on relationship-based OT treatment. The educational level is introductory.

Instructional Methods/Registration/Special Needs Requests/Cancellation Policy

This course is an independent/self-study course delivered via podcast on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play. Explore your listening options on the OT Potential Podcast page.

If you need accommodations to take this course, please contact us and we will address your needs on an individual basis.

If this course were to be cancelled, please see our cancellation policy on our terms page.

Course Completion Requirements

In order to receive a certificate for this course, you must first listen to the podcast in its entirety. Then, you will need to take the test (found at the top of this page) and earn 75% or higher. If you pass, a certificate will be automatically generated and sent to your email.


Rafael E. Salazar II, MHS, OTR/L:

 Rafi is the Principal Owner of Rehab U Practice Solutions, a leader in patient retention strategy. He has experience in a variety of rehab settings, working with patients recovering from a variety of injuries and surgeries. He worked as the lead clinician in an outpatient specialty clinic at his local VA Medical center, where he worked on projects to improve patient & employee engagement and experience throughout the organization. In that role, Rafi led a team to roll out a patient engagement initiative rooted in relationship-based care.

After leaving the VA, Rafi began working as a healthcare consultant, on a multi-million-dollar project for Georgia’s Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities. This project involved work related to the transition of individuals out of state institutions to community residences and establishing statewide mobile integrated clinical services for individuals on the state Medicaid waiver program. As part of that project, Rafi developed and launched a large internal marketing & communications campaign aimed at increasing awareness for internal stakeholders about integrated clinical services within the state. He also developed protocols and systems to coordinate and manage interdisciplinary collaborative care within the State’s Medicaid Waiver system as well as clinical and operational guidelines for case management & telehealth and virtual service delivery.

Rafi also has experience as an assistant professor at Augusta University’s Occupational Therapy Program,, as a Licensed Board Member on the GA State OT Board, has served on several committees for the national OT Board (NBCOT), and as a consultant working for the State of Georgia’s DBHDD. He is also on the Board of Directors for NBCOT. He owns and operates Proactive Rehabilitation & Wellness, a multi-specialty outpatient clinic that treats patients experiencing musculoskeletal and orthopedic conditions as well as chronic pain.

He is also a cofounding member of CRA Learning, a continuing education and training company serving clinicians who work with adults with intellectual & developmental disabilities.

At Rehab U Practice Solutions, Rafi helps clinics, health systems, and healthcare companies improve patient engagement & experience leading to increased revenue & lifetime patient value. He envisions a world where skilled, competent, and caring clinicians serve and care for engaged patients to promote better clinical outcomes, unmatched patient satisfaction, and lasting relationships.

Education: Graduated from Augusta University (formerly MCG) 2012, Masters in Health Science, Occupational Therapy

Professional Involvement: Licensed Board Member on Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy, Faculty Instructor & Assistant Professor at Augusta University’s OT Department, Volunteer with NBCOT for item development & enhancement as well as Clinical Simulation Committee, Clinical Education Coordination, Board of Directors for NBCOT

Specialty Areas: Upper Extremity Orthopedics, Outpatient Rehabilitation, Hand Rehabilitation, Adult Physical Dysfunction, Post-Surgical and Sports-Related Injury Rehabilitation, Clinical Consulting, Case Management, Community Support, Integrated Clinical Support, Community Integration, Accessibility Consulting, Integrated Clinical Program Development, Mobile Clinical Care, Rehab Consulting, Interprofessional Collaborative Practice, Marketing & Communications Strategy, Business Development, Patient Engagement & Retentions Strategy

Sarah Lyon, OTR/L:

Sarah Lyon, OTR/L headshot

Sarah’s passion is helping fellow OT practitioners translate evidence into daily practice. Sarah earned her BA in religion from St. Olaf College, then earned her master’s degree in occupational therapy from New York University in 2011. Since then, she’s worked in numerous facilities, including a critical access hospital, an acute trauma hospital, and a state inpatient psychiatric hospital.

In 2011, Sarah launched OT Potential because she realized we needed a reliable source of quality occupational therapy-related content and resources. She has also had the opportunity to create content for brands like WebPT, MedBridge, Saebo, and NeuroLutions.

She launched the OT Potential Club in 2019 to marry her love of simplifying complex topics with her desire to help therapists access the most important OT-related research released each year.

Sarah is a prairie girl at heart, which is why she returned to her hometown to raise her children in Aurora, Nebraska (home of the strobe light).

This course was designed to meet your continuing education requirements

Every state, entity, and country has different requirements for what counts as continuing education, and we have done our best to make sure it meets yours. Please double check with particular requirements, and let us know if you have any questions about whether it meets your needs.

NBCOT renewal:
This course is designed to meet the requirements of NBCOT PDUs. But, you are advised to make your own determination as to whether the course will be beneficial to your practice. NBCOT does not endorse any specific professional development units.

See #14 on the NBCOT Renewal Activities Chart to see what this podcast would qualify under. (OT Potential is considered a 3rd party entity.)

We are AOTA approved!!
Works for NBCOT PDUs!

State license renewal (within the US):

Our OT Potential Podcast is intended to meet the requirements for “online” and “independent/self-study” courses. If you have any questions about your particular continuing education requirements, please check with the licensing entity in your state.

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