The Kawa model uses the metaphor of a river consisting of water (life energy or life flow), river sides and a bottom (social and physical contexts), rocks (circumstances impeding life flow), and driftwood (personal attributes and resources) to visualize the person's life story, which is comprised of many occupations (Iwama, 2006).
Semi-structured interview questions were developed through the lens of the Kawa model, as the participants were asked to visualize, draw, and reflect on their metaphorical river prior to the interviews.
Five core themes were discovered in the components of the Kawa model to describe the parents' experiences surrounding their loss: (a) volatile nature of flow, (b) river sides and bottoms: support from inner circle and connection with outer circle, (c) rocks: lonely islands, (d) driftwood: personal attributes of positivity and economics, and (e) enhancing my river's flow.
According to the Kawa model, spaces between the rocks in one's river are spaces where life's energy continues to flow between the rocks, driftwood, river sides, and the bottom.
The Kawa Model has been heralded as an innovative and exciting occupational therapy model.
The Kawa Model offers a unique, occupation-focused, person-centred, holistic, recovery-based, and culturally responsive way of working with service users.
The Kawa Model differs from these traditional occupational therapy models as culture is its primary focus.
Michael Iwama and colleagues developed the Kawa Model from an underlying ontology and philosophy that originates from a Japanese social and cultural milieu (Iwama, 2006a).
This situation is exactly what led to the development of the Kawa Model (Iwama, 2006) which came about because a group of Japanese occupational therapists explained their inability to understand the notion of 'self' in the Model of Human Occupation.
Jesse attends the 2006 New Zealand Association of Occupational Therapists National Conference where she hears Michael Iwama speak about the Kawa Model (Iwama, 2006).
Feeling more confident, Jesse takes these ideas back to the Kawa Model site--and discovers that Michael has set up a Skypp' conference for the next week.