The Vona du Toit Model of Creative Ability (VdTMoCA) is an occupational therapy practice-based model developed by a South African occupational therapist, Vona du Toit, (pictured left). The model derived from the theory of creative ability developed by Vona during the 1960s and 1970s. The term ‘creative ability’ does not refer to artistic flair but to one’s ability to bring about change within themselves in order to reach their potential, (Van der Reyden et al, 2019).

Since Vona's untimely death in 1974 our experts in South Africa and colleagues in the UK have continued to drive the model forward. The model has been successfully applied to both individuals and collective communities and across fields of practice demonstrating diversity and wide applicability. Interest in the model has grown from its origins in South Africa, coming to the UK in 2003 and is developing in Japan, Turkey, Singapore and Australia. Whilst the model is growing in popularity throughout the globe it remains proudly South African. 

Until recently there has been little formally written about the theoretical basis and constructs of the model, however in October 2019 the first major text was published, providing much insight and marking a historical time in establishing the theory of creative ability in preparedness for future application of the VdTMoCA and potential research.

At the heart of creative ability was Vona's conviction that activity participation is essential for health and well-being, in line with the philosophy of occupational therapy today. In addition, her passion for the power of activity as a therapeutic medium and initiative exerted by the therapist, were also driving forces. The theory of creative ability was not only informed through Vona’s thinking, clinical observations and occupational therapy philosophy and theory, but additionally the influential works of Buber, Rogers and Piaget (du Toit, 2015). Creative ability encapsulates the totality of an individual, their mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual abilities whilst considering the immediate and wider environmental context, (Van der Reyden et al, 2019).

The fundamental belief of creative ability is that motivation governs action and the quality of an individual’s motivation can be observed through their action or activity participation, (Van der Reyden et al, 2019).

 An individual can move fluidly through the levels of motivation and action during illness, disability, disease and recovery, thus regression and progression. Creative ability is within everyone and we all have some ability to bring about change within ourselves, when provided with the just right challenge, within an enhancing and stimulating environment, (Van der Reyden et al, 2019).

The assessment process confirms the level of creative ability, of an individual, after which the model stipulates treatment priorities aligned with the needs of the individual on the different levels of creative ability. This ensures intervention is timely and cost effective, essential in today’s healthcare climate. As the model is developmental and follows a sequential pattern, assessment provides a baseline, for clinical practice, and continued measurement and evaluation creates opportunity for pre and post testing, lending itself well to research potential (Van der Reyden et al, 2019).

Unlike other occupational therapy models the VdTMoCA assists the therapist further, in providing stipulated guidelines for intervention. These guidelines inform the therapist how to select and grade activities, how to structure and present them whilst considering environmental influences. In addition, central to the core theoretical assumptions is the power of the therapeutic use of self, known as the handling principles which provide the therapist with the valuable tools to adapt their approach according to the level of creative ability.

In summary, the VdTMoCA takes the therapist through the entire OT process, providing a theoretical basis, to underpin clinical reasoning, justification and rationale.

Further information on the constructs, theory, principles and application to clincial practice can be found in the references below. 


du Toit, V. (2015) Patient Volition and Action in Occupational Therapy (5th ed.). Pretoria: Vona and   Marié du Toit Foundation.

Van der Reyden, D, Casteleijn, D, Sherwood, W and de Witt, P. (2019) The Vona du Toit Model of Creative Ability: Origins, Constructs, Principles and Application in Occupational Therapy. Pretoria: The Marie and Vona du Toit Foundation.


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    Opportunities for networking

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  • Mar 25, 2020 by Tori


     Hi Lou, 
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