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How is Your kawa today

Updated: Apr 13, 2021




We’re seeing an increase the use of the Japanese concept of Ikigai for gaining clarity on our reason for being and I’m in love with it too but have you heard of the Kawa Model? It’s another Japanese model, used in occupational therapy, that conceptualises our life energy and I use it whenever I have a sustained block or difficulty and I want to understand why; I’ve even used it with student OTs.


Kawa means river and the water represents our life energy. As you might expect this energy presents differently for each of us; the reasons for this are conceptualised below in the key features of the model:


Water = life energy


River sidewalls and bottom = physical and social context which cannot be separated from the water flow (ie, family and friends)


Rocks = problems that affect flow and can be difficult to remove (ie, stress, anxiety, behaviours)


Driftwood = attributes and resources that can be assets or liabilities (communication skills, values & beliefs, knowledge)


I find this metaphor really helpful to contextualise my life and or that of my clients when one of us is stuck. It’s also really useful to help adolescents understand their current situation and their behaviours.


The river flow changes over time due to evolving features but the change can be so gradual we barely recognise it’s happening. How is your life energy? Has it been as expected or sped up and slowed down, deviated and taken you in a direction you didn’t anticipate? Are you content with your current direction or would you prefer to explore new territory? What rocks or boulders are in your way that you’ve tried to budge but just can’t? Do you know which driftwood is a liability and which is an asset?




If you’d like to explore how I can help you shift those boulders and take action to head in the right direction, please contact me for a no-obligation exploratory call.


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