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About Me.

My name is Dr. Aster Gallus (He/Him/His) and I am a trans and AuDHD occupational therapist. I fell in love with occupational therapy because it seeks to include every person, regardless of ability, sexuality, gender, socio-economic status, education, environmental barriers, or any other factor. My core values focus on inclusion, autonomy, creativity, joy, and community. And cats.

During my OTD I studied psychology, ergonomics, human development, physiology, and the social determinants of health, specifically how they interact to impact a person's participation in their community and daily life. I published an article on occupational therapy's role in alleviating family homelessness, served as a volunteer board member for a student run clinic, and was the liaison between the University of Toledo OTD program and the American Occupational Therapy Association. 

Since graduating, I have worked in home health, skilled nursing, acute care (at a hospital) and academics. Although I valued my work, I consistently found myself frustrated with the structure of most organizations actively working against the health and well-being of my patients, colleagues, and myself, instead focusing on profit and productivity. So I decided to leave traditional healthcare and offer coaching to work with individuals and groups at our pace and with our values at the center.  

Previous Projects

Grant with Family House Toledo

After finishing my doctorate I ran family-centered programming at the Family House in Toledo, Ohio. What started as a rather dry parenting class quickly transformed into a multi-generational craft group. Our youngest participants were sometimes under a year old and our oldest participant was almost 70! Families shared ideas for crafts that they would enjoy doing and I would find a way to make it happen. I would scale the crafts so that everyone in the group could participate and find meaning, for those who wanted to play more loosely and others who wanted focused time to create art. Along the way, we discussed and acted out skills for emotional regulation, communication, distress tolerance, and building community.

Doctoral Capstone and Publication

Occupational Therapy and Health Promotion for Homeless Families: Advocacy Through a Professional Journal

During my doctoral capstone, I explored how the profession of occupational therapy could be utilized to promote health and wellness for families experiencing homelessness. I conducted a community needs assessment, interviewing entities such as local homeless shelters, service organizations, and leaders in the non-profit community. The results of the needs assessments demonstrated barriers to engaging in occupations centered around the social determinants of health, namely: personal wellness, home management, employment, education, and family wellness. Occupational therapy has the profound but untapped potential to empower families experiencing homelessness to promote their health in each of these areas through programming, staff training, and consulting with organizations.

Graduate Research Project (2018-2020)

 

Exploring the Relationship between Psychological Well-Being, Meaningful Occupational Engagement and Time-use; Aster Gallus, Emily Bollin, Laura Schmelzer, PhD, OTR/L

 

My doctoral research project explored how well-being, meaningful engagement, and time-use were connected for people experiencing poverty. We utilized a single point in-time survey battery including the World Health Organization Well-being Index-5 (WHO-5), Engagement in Meaningful Activities Survey (EMAS), and the Occupational Time-Use Survey (OTUS) based on the American Time-Use Survey (ATUS). Results indicated several connections between each construct. Psychological well-being and meaningful engagement demonstrated a significant correlation for people experiencing poverty. A large part of the sample also demonstrated decreased psychological well-being compared to general population statistics for well-being.  This decreased psychological well-being may be tied to decreased access to meaningful and necessary occupations. Implications for future research include exploration of these relationships, as well as how these relationships can be used therapeutically to positively promote psychological well-being through meaningful engagement. 

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