The article's aim is to reflect on and contribute to developing occupational therapy as a profession. I propose an ethical interpretation of health and helping professions in general and occupational therapy in particular. According to this ethical interpretation, the essential function and mission of classical health and helping professions are defined by certain ethical values: the basic elements of a good human life. I argue that the central concepts of occupational therapy, activity and participation, can plausibly be understood in this light. However, this seems to imply a rather substantial conception of well-being which I try to spell out. In addition, I specify the basic principles of biomedical ethics in the context of occupational therapy according to an ethical interpretation. In conclusion, I point at four advantages of the ethical interpretation: It adds precision and content to ethical principles and guidelines; it contributes to building up and preserving a shared professional identity; it puts emphasis on a client-centred perspective on professional work; and it provides a constructive framework for inter-professional co-operation.
Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 2009, Vol 16, Issue 2, p. 88-98