Carrie Rengers

New occupational therapy practice opens downtown

Melissa Smith’s new Innovative Holistic Therapy in Occidental Plaza downtown will focus on helping teenagers and young adults who may be struggling to find their way.
Melissa Smith’s new Innovative Holistic Therapy in Occidental Plaza downtown will focus on helping teenagers and young adults who may be struggling to find their way. Courtesy photo

Thirty years after becoming an occupational therapist, Melissa Smith has decided to go into business for herself with Innovative Holistic Therapy in Occidental Plaza at First and Main streets downtown.

Smith has done all kinds of occupational therapy, such as rehabilitation and acute care hospital work, but she says she’s found particular satisfaction from helping younger people who may not have defined conditions.

“I’m there for adolescents and teenagers who are having trouble adjusting,” Smith says. “That’s basically what I’m looking for.”

She says psycho-social occupational therapy was big when she first entered the field, and it’s making a resurgence again now, particularly because she says the American Occupational Therapy Association is pushing for it.

“We just want to help people become independent and function in society,” Smith says.

She says initially she was a little wary of teenagers.

“I was like, oh, the teenagers. This is a rough crowd.”

Smith says she fell in love with them, though, and she finds them to be receptive.

“Basic coping skills really make a huge different in their lives.”

Smith says she also fell in love with Occidental Plaza, which she says is beautiful and allows a lot of light in her suite, which is No. 304 on the third floor.

Smith says she knows Occidental Management president Chad Stafford, who handled the deal, and says he and the company have been especially helpful with her opening.

The practice will have an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. on Feb. 16.

Smith says some people may wonder why someone would see an occupational therapist instead of a counselor.

“What I do is totally different,” she says.

Smith says her focus is on developing skills and meeting goals. She says she’s a “doer.”

“We just help somebody live a fulfilling life.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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