Blog Post

The Royal College Occupational Therapy (RCOT) – New Brand Reflection – I like it and the Phoenix needed to go.

Acknowledgment –  This blog post is a personal opinion piece of initial thoughts of observations of comments on twitter, with only google research done in effort to appease my thoughts from swimming around my head.  This communication has been written by a dyslexic person. If you have any trouble with the meaning of any of the sentences or words, please do not be afraid to ask for clarification. I’m #MadeByDyslexia – expect creative thinking & creative spelling.

Earlier in the year I set myself a challenge to challenge all my initial thoughts the following hopefully demonstrates my thought process.

Twitter observations – a good buzz about new strategies, vision and brand, well done RCOT your have listen to feedback and made changes, some concern that the images are grainy when viewed on smart phone,  most see themselves represented,  apart from perhaps those from a LGBTQIA+ community, with acknowledgment that is can be hard to represent, adding useful advice around including symbols associated with the community to some of the images. There was in someway understandably a lot of disappoint in the lost of the Phoenix in logo change. 

Challenge to the Feedback.

RCOT and new CEO asked us what we wanted –  we said change.  

Having volunteered within various roles throughout my 18 years as a member, my frustration was always hitting barriers and a reluctance to modernism.  My feedback was I want you to be more open, more engaging with members looking after their needs and embracing their ideas.  I want you to be a voice to fight for rights of those we deliver a service for, and for those that work in this field.  I want to feel heard, feel involved and part of something and I want others to feel that too – this for me is most reflected in the new values with; 

‘We Elevate
We lift up and support others to be and do their best.
We are accessible and collaborative.
We are united and move forward together, even if we sometimes disagree.’ our-values

‘Even if we sometimes disagree’  or in the words of Jo Cox MP “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

Thoughts Everyone wants change but our expectations will be based first on our experiences and our values, the skill is to put those to one side at some point during the process. A skill perhaps well practise within the occupational therapy profession?

Criticism is second nature, because nothing will be exactly how you as an individual envisioned it, that perhaps is the point of collaboration?  Change is scary, even when we want it.  The task of an organisation is to take on board what people have said, and find a balance, but at some point listening needs to turn to action, or we would always be listening and not doing.  As OT’s are we not fans of ‘doing’?

When seeing the logo ‘but I love the phoenix, it’s part of our history, it represents raising from the ashes’. 

Feelings I am upset I never said get ride of the phoenix, that’s part of my identity!    

Thoughts – Why is part of my identity what are the facts?

Action – Looked up definitions of Phoenix in a dictionary in this case Collins English Dictionary on line Collins English Dictionary. Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers  Link here

New Logo – rights to download and use as a member

In summery – with highlight words to consider.


  •  A phoenix is an imaginary bird which, according to ancient stories, burns itself to ashes every five hundred years and is then born again.
  • If you describe someone or something as a phoenix, you mean that they return again after seeming to disappear or be destroyed. [literary] Out of the ashes of the economic shambles, a phoenix of recovery can arise.
  • A legendary Arabian bird said to set fire to itself and rise anew from the ashes every 500 years
  • A person or thing of surpassing beauty or quality
  • A city in central Arizona, capital city of the state, on the Salt River
  • Egyptian Mythology a beautiful, lone bird which lives in the Arabian desert for 500 or 600 years and then sets itself on fire, rising renewed from the ashes to start another long life: a symbol of immortality
  • Word forms: Latin genitive Phoenicis a mythical bird of , and to rise from its ashes in the freshness of youth and live through another cycle of years: often an emblem of immortality or of reborn idealism or home.
  •  a person or thing of peerless beauty or excellence; paragon
  • a person or thing that has become renewed or restored after suffering calamity or apparent annihilation

Thought – I wonder is there is an ism of Phoenix? 

Action – found definition – Phoenixism in British English NOUN business

‘The process of making a business insolvent in order to evade paying debts and then setting the business up again under a new name’ Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers

Thought  – ‘But lots of health professions use the phoenix’, 

Action  Googled ‘Health symbols and Phoenix’ (see below image)

Observed – Links to websites with words like Rebirth, Beauty, Gives Health, Holistic.  

Thought  –  Is the idea of using something that is reborn for ashes a good symbol to represent health professions?  Or is this another example of the healthy/able not understanding the complexities of being ill/disabled?  

Thought – Is this Ablism?  ‘discrimination in favour of able-bodied people’  

Action – reviewing the words used in definitions of a phoenix and its association with health care, and how they could be interrupted.  

  • The Phoenix sets itself on fire – Blame? 
  • Described as imaginary – Not being believed? 
  • Returning after being destroyed, missing – disability is destroying, there are not positives. (context is important here)
  • Beauty and Quality – Valuing being perfect and getting back to before rather that content and fulfilled with what is reality now. 
  • Lone bird –  Alone
  • Renewed life, that is fresh, Restored – All words challenged in modern recovery literature. 
  • Insolvent, Evade paying debts, Setting up again under a new name – deception?

Thought Occupational Therapy for me is about working with the person to find, their beauty, their strength, their values, living their life their way, despite the complexities of ill health and disabilities.   

Conclusion the notion of the ‘phoenix’ despite my love for it, formed from a simple understanding rather that the complexities of real life –  it’s time to let go. 

However if the green had gone that would be another story!!!  


Since writing this blog it has had a lot of comments, mainly on twitter, some questioning why RCOT made the decision to move away from the Phoenix in its brand, having looked further into it I found some information on the RCOT history page

The Phoenix

Embodying the principle of regeneration, the Phoenix has been used as a badge for occupational therapists since the 1930s.

However, research showed that while the Phoenix was a symbol of pride for some RCOT members, it wasn’t fully understood or recognised by all members or external audiences. We realised that our brand needed to focus on what matters most – the positive outcomes we achieve for the people we work with.

Our brand retains this spirit of regeneration, but it’s now rooted in the challenges we help people overcome. Most importantly, it’s more accessible to people from all backgrounds and walks of life.


4 thoughts on “The Royal College Occupational Therapy (RCOT) – New Brand Reflection – I like it and the Phoenix needed to go.”

  1. Thank you, love this post, there is a place for restoring, rehab, recovery, but there is so much more to Occupational Therapy and although I have a phoenix tattoo (pre degree) I agree it’s time to go

  2. I disagree. This post fails to appreciate the provenance of the Phoenix, how it is a well-established representation of occupational therapy that is unique to the profession. It misunderstands the original purpose of the use of a Phoenix to represent occupational therapy from the outset, which was to encompass the transformation and renewal potential of occupational independence that the profession facilitates. It is nothing to do with ablism. It does not matter if not all therapists know the history or the legend of the phoenix. They can learn it and understand its beauty, as many have done when they entered the profession and worn it proudly on their lapels. Occupational therapy history matters. The new logo just seems like yet another bland, corporate, empty design, based on marketing principles rather than on the special and unique history and provenance of a membership organisation.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment John, its alway good to understand things from different points of view. I’m sure at the time is was developed it had no intention to be ableist, nor does the blog call it that, it simply asks the question.

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