Applying the Kawa [River] Model| Online Assignment Help

Module 3-Assignment: Applying the Kawa [River] Model

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· Submitting a file upload

Related Student Learning Outcomes:

· Discuss the development and significance of theories underlying the practice of occupational therapy in today’s sociopolitical climate. (2)

· Correlate models of service delivery with influences on the practice of occupational therapy. (3)

· Differentiate the models of practice as they apply to the practice of occupational therapy. (4)



To differentiate the most common occupation-based models of practice as they apply to practice.


· Consider the idea that life is a river:

· If life is like a river, what is a drought in one’s life?

· If life is like a river, how can we think about the currents in the river of life?

· If life is like a river, what is a flood in someone’s life river?

· If your life is a river, would you rather be a meandering stream or a forceful rapid?

1. Now, using the  Kawa Model (attached)   template provided, create a drawing that depicts your current life situation as a river (This can be hand-drawn, computer generated, and/or multi-medium).

· Draw the floor and sidewalls of your life’s river. In the floor and sidewalls, embed the names of

· People who provide you with the most support, true friends (Steven husband) (Cecilia –Mother) (jessica – Cousin)

· People who provide you with material support and resources (Katie- friend) (Madlen-Aunt)

· Places you frequent that build you up, refresh or replenish you, inspire or direct you (Big Bear) (Disneyland) ( beach)

· Somewhere along the bottom or the sides draw the rocks. Label each rock as a problem or difficulty you are currently experiencing.

· Draw as many or as few rocks as you like

· Make the size of each rock relative to the degree of impediment these problems create in your life (family issues) (stress) (work) (college)

· Draw driftwood in your river to represent your assets.

· Label the driftwood with some of your best features or characteristics. (caring) (patient) (determined) (honest) (loyal)

· Label other driftwood as some of your most important skills/attributes.

· Now focus on the spaces between the floor, walls, rocks, and driftwood.

· Label these spaces with the occupations in your life that hold the most meaning for you. (wife) (student) (rest and sleep) (work) (leisure)

· Be judicious and include only those things that are important for you to carry on no matter what life throws at you; these are things that are the essence of you.

· Explain your illustration.  Do you think you could use the metaphor of life as a river as a way to help you consider a person in a sociocultural context?

Foundations for Occupational Therapy

OCT 510

Models of Practice in OT – Kawa Model

Create an illustration of the Kawa Model with regard to your personal circumstances:

(The illustration can be drawn by hand or computer technology)

Explain the Kawa Model picture:

Do you think you could use the metaphor of life as a river as a way to help you consider a person in a sociocultural context?


Kawa (River) Model Lim & Iwama, 2006

Occupational Therapy Division University of Cape Town ‘Matumo Ramafikeng


Kawa means river (in Japanese) and the Kawa model uses it as a metaphor for life flow.

The metaphor translates subjective views of self, life, well-being and the meaning of occupation in context.


Figure 3

Figure 5

Figure 7


End of Life


Figure 1 Life is like a river, flowing from birth to end of life. The release of the river into an ocean depicts the termination of flow, hence the end of life.

Used with permission from M. Iwama


Used with permission from M. Iwama



Central concept

Harmony- a state of being, where the individual or community is in balance.

The presence of coexistence and interdependence within the context that one is part of.

Wellbeing is characterized by a state in which all elements coexist in harmony within the context .

Disruption of harmony interferes with the coexistence or life flow.


Components of the river

Water (Mizu) – depicting person’s life flow or life energy.

Water affects all elements and structures of the river and they also affect the water flow. This indicates that people’s lives are shaped and bound by the environment and life circumstances.

Weakening of the life flow or energy indicates a state of disharmony and unwellness of the client.


Components of the river

Rocks (Iwa) – depicting life problematic circumstances that are difficult to remove.

Depending on how big they are, they can obstruct flow.

For example, congenital conditions, illness, disability, injury or trauma.


Components of the river

River side walls (Kawa no soku-heki) and bottom (Kawa no zoko)-depicting the environment.

Environmental issues affect the flow of the river; they determine the boundaries, shape and flow of water.

Environment constructs the self, the experience of being and meaning for action.


Components of the river

Driftwood (Ryboku)-depicting personal assets such as material or immaterial resources .

These assets can positively or negatively affect circumstances.

Assets are important in treatment as they could be used to shift the rocks increasing flow, thereby enhancing and restoring harmony.


Kawa no Soku-Heki & Kawa Zoko: River Walls & Floor

Iwa: Rocks

Ryuboku: Driftwood

Mizu: Water

Figure 2 The quality of water flow is affected by; the river walls and bottom; rocks and driftwood. Wherever there is a need to enhance life flow, there is a need for occupational therapy.

Used with permission from M. Iwama



Figure 3: Cross sectional view of a client’s Kawa showing the effect of river components on flow. This shows

Used with permission by M. Iwama



How the river works

The shape and status of water, or life flow, is determined by the compounding interplay of rocks (problems), driftwood (assets/liabilities) & the river walls and floor (environment). Rocks increase in size, shape & number, situating along a dynamic, enclosing environment, trapping driftwood. Life Flow is compromised, indicating a need for occupational therapy.





Figure 4 Sukima / Spaces: potential focal points for occupational therapy. Intervention can be multi-faceted and include; breaking or eroding away the (medical) problem, limiting personal liabilities and/or maximizing personal assets, as well as intervening on elements of the greater environment (including the social and physical). Focusing water on these objects to erode or move them is metaphorical of the client using their own abilities or life force to affect their health / well-being

Used with permission from M. Iwama



Figure 5 Occupational Therapy: Helps to identify spaces, where water (life force) can still flow; focuses water through the spaces, over rocks (problems/obstacles), driftwood (resources; liabilities and assets) and walls/sides (environmental context), eroding the surfaces and thus increasing life flow.

Used with permission from M. Iwama



Figure 6 The power of occupational therapy; increased life flow. All obstacles may not have been completely eliminated; some may have even remained unchanged. However, life flows more strongly, despite life’s obstacles and challenges.

Used with permission from M. Iwama



The Kawa Model:

Collectivistic view of Reality

Reflects an Eastern Ontology

Regards Life and Occupation as elements/dynamic of Nature (as opposed to ‘Mechanistic’ phenomena).

Focuses on the “Here and Now”

Tool to elicit the clients’ view of reality (rather than forcing interpretation through a universal framework)

Applicable to Organisms and Organizations



Lim, H. & Iwama, M.K. 2006. Emerging models- An Asian perspective: The Kawa (River) Model. In Duncan, E.A.S. (ed). 2006. Foundations for practice in occupational Therapy. 4th Edition. Elsevier Limited: London.

For more information on the development and application of the Kawa (River) Model visit the website below:



This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 2.5 South Africa License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/za/

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