POTAC History: Then and Now

The Psychiatric Occupational Therapy Action Coalition (POTAC) had its roots in an original group of San Francisco OTs working in mental health, the OT Psych. Forum, organized by the Sr. Occupational Therapist at San Francisco General Hospital, Judith Levins Leiber, MPH, OTR in the early 1980’s. The group was developed for the purpose of continuing education, networking, and promotion of mental health OT practice. The group, always well attended, met monthly on Friday afternoons at the SFGH.

By 1995 it was becoming obvious that OT jobs were disappearing and that there were many fewer OTs who were working in mental health settings. Two members of the OT Psych. Forum, Ruth Ramsey, MS, OTR/L and Eileen Auerbach, MS, OTR/L called together a group of psych. OTs to discuss beginning a more activist effort to reinvigorate the practice of psychiatric OT. They called this group the Psychiatric Occupational Therapy Action Coalition. As POTAC developed, its mission statement was “to revitalize the practice of psychiatric occupational therapy through education, information, and advocacy for consumers, health care providers and the community.”

POTAC is currently headed by a steering committee. It meets during open planning and support meetings on a semi-monthly basis, usually on Saturday mornings in members’ homes.