MSE Practice: Mindful Therapy and Allen’s Cognitive Levels

November 25th, 2018

Contributed by Dr. Janice Ryan, OT

What is Allen’s Cognitive Levels?

Allen’s Cognitive Levels was originally designed by a well-known occupational therapist by the name of Claudia Kay Allen. It was designed as a simple way to understand a person’s cognitive level by observing, understanding, and watching for patterns of influence upon their behavior. 

Allen’s Cognitive Levels was developed to help health care professionals provide client-focused services to people with cognitive challenges. Also called the ACL, Allen’s assessment has now been adapted many times for a variety of uses and remains especially popular in long-term cognitive care programs.

Therapists work at Allen Cognitive Level 6.0

ACL 6.0 is the highest level of abstract human reasoning because a person at this cognitive level “considers several hypothetical plans of action and establishes abstract criteria for selecting the best plan.” Master therapists work at this level consistently.

Human Systems Dynamics or HSD Models were developed by Glenda Eoyang to support the capacity of system leaders to consistently use this level of reasoning as they meet organizational challenges. HSD Associates are trained by applying abstract models to develop outstanding leadership skills, make well-designed and ethical action plans, and mindfully consider possible risks to avoid unnecessary mistakes in human systems of all sizes. 

The Mindful Occupational Therapy Approach was developed by applying easy-to-use HSD Models of practice. AAMSE-Certified Practitioners are taught to consistently perform at ACL 6.0 by learning how to apply these easy-to-use HSD Models to reach practice and health care system leadership goals. 

Promoting a client’s highest Allen’s Cognitive Level

By performing consistently at an ACL 6.0, a therapist enhances their client’s capacity to develop their own highest cognitive potential during treatment. By observing and understanding the difference in their client’s ACL patterns within and outside of an MSE, a therapist can give their client an opportunity to generalize cognitive gains in treatment within their natural life environments. 

Principles used by master practitioners to bring out the most in their clients are also used by strong healthcare system managers. Mature practitioners, system managers, and gifted leaders know how to teach others by following the principles of neuroplasticity.