Founders of Occupational Therapy: Adolf Meyer

Published - April 20, 2017

In honor of National Occupational Therapy Month, CBD College is spotlighting the founders of this integral field.  CBD College looks forward to spreading OT awareness this month and every month.

Adolf Meyer

Born: September 13, 1866, Niederweningen, Switzerland

Died: adolf meyerMarch 17, 1950, Baltimore, MD

Adolf Meyer was a psychiatrist who rose to prominence as the first psychiatrist-in-chief of the Johns Hopkins Hospital.  He was the head of the first Occupational Therapy department, which was in Baltimore, MD.  Meyer served as president of the American Psychiatric Association in 1927-28.  He remains one of the most influential figures in psychiatry from the first half of the twentieth century.  He thought that mental illness was a problem of adoption and habitat deterioration.  He postulated that these problems arose from a lack of balance of work, rest and play.  He thought that engagement in occupations were pleasurable, educational, and creative.  Meyer was one of the earliest psychiatrists to support occupational therapy as a profession.

Meyer made an important connection between the activities of an individual and their mental health.  He incorporated community- based activities and services to develop people’s everyday living skills.  His focus on collecting detailed case histories of patients was one of the most prominent of his contributions. He oversaw the building and development of the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital, opened in April 1913, making sure it was suitable for scientific research, training, and treatment.

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