South Africa, and indeed the world, has lost a dynamic and prominent occupational therapist in Viv Alers. With a degree in social work and a master’s in occupational therapy, she also belonged to the World Psychodrama Association, and trained in psychodrama and the therapeutic spiral in the UK, Jerusalem, and France. As a clinician, and typical of her generous nature and activist leanings, she took her expertise in trauma counselling into disadvantaged communities in South Africa, where violent crimes are rife, and the availability of such expertise is minimal. She was a popular lecturer in occupational therapy at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. And core editor of three editions of Occupational Therapy in Psychiatry and Mental Health, a well-known textbook. Although Viv was not actively involved with WFOT, she was very active within the occupational therapy in Africa regional group, and that is why we have chosen to honour her today.
She was very active in the OTARG conferences and with a passionate love for Africa. Viv’s determination to chronicle the unique role of occupational therapy in Africa was realised when in 2010, as principal editor, she produced a book, Occupational Therapy the African Perspective, which is used extensively by occupational therapist in Africa today. Viv was a much loved and larger than life person, often the life and soul of the party, but equally the passionate, gentle, loyal friend that would listen intently to the concerns of her colleagues and the oppressed.
WFOT thanks Viv for her contribution to occupational therapy in South Africa.