Dr. Liat Gafni-Lachter's quest to enhance pediatric health services

Dr. Liat Gafni Lachter

 

POSTDOC STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

Dr. Liat Gafni-Lachter, OTD
Fulbright Scholar Program
Department of Occupational Therapy

Creator of “Better Together” Program for Advancing Family-Centered Care

 

Liat Gafni-Lachter wears many professional hats: she is an occupational therapist,
educator, and currently, a Fulbright scholar at the University of Haifa, where she is
completing her postdoctoral research. After completing her service in the IDF Medical
Corps, Dr. Gafni-Lachter earned a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, followed by a master’s degree in occupational therapy
at the University of Haifa. A few years later, she moved to the US to advance her clinical
and research skills, first working as a pediatric occupational therapist in Chicago, then
as an assistant professor at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. During her
doctoral studies at Boston University, she developed “Better Together”, a training
program designed to enhance family- centered care in pediatric health services.
This program is now the focus of her postdoc research.

 

My Academic Journey:

After working as a therapist with children with developmental delays and autism for a number of years, I was motivated to improve family-centered care practices. Upon receiving the Fulbright scholarship, I chose the University of Haifa as my academic home. I was fortunate to find two excellent advisors at the Department: Prof. Naomi Josman, an internationally recognized leader in cognitive rehabilitation who also serves as the Director of the Department’s PhD Program and as Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences; and Dr. Ayelet Ben-Sasson, a renowned researcher in the field of child development and the co-creator of ‘Baby Croinc’, a platform which harnesses crowd wisdom to help parents monitor their child’s developmental milestones.

 

Postdoc Activities:

With support from the University, I launched the “Better Together” training program which to date has trained about 65 occupational therapists across Israel and was able to raise awareness of ways to promote family-centered care at conferences and workshops in Israel and abroad. Since being rolled out over a year ago, practitioners have noted substantial learning gains and improvements in parent-practitioner interactions. The program was first hosted at the University’s Interdisciplinary Clinical Center, which offers diverse therapeutic and diagnostic services to at-risk populations. It was also sponsored by the University’s Division of Continuing Education, and the Department of Occupational Therapy. I am also honored to represent the Department in the Israeli Society for Occupational Therapy.

 

Future Plans:

I hope to continue training professionals and develop more effective tools and measurements for partnerships with families at the organizational level. I plan to expand my research to follow families as the children enter adulthood. I am grateful to the Fulbright United States-Israel Education Foundation, the Ministry of Absorption and the University of Haifa for their generous support and for believing in me.

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