What is occupational therapy?


You may not be familiar with what an occupational therapist does (you’re not alone), so I’d like to take this opportunity to share what I do since it’s OT month after all. Also, the profession OT turns 100 years old this year. What a milestone!

Think of occupations as what occupies your time, from the moment you get up from the moment to go back to sleep. From brushing teeth, checking Facebook, chatting, driving, running or doing yoga, these are all meaningful activities to you and are considered occupations.

If you’re not able to participate in these occupations, that’s where an OT can help address the physical, mental, cognitive, environmental barriers to living your dream life.

You see there’s so much room for creativity and freedom in being an OT. You can work in hospitals, schools, clinics, residential areas, communities, telehealth and private practice. You can stick to one OT job or many different jobs like me (I work for a non-profit mental health agency, a home health agency and a school). You can see clients from 0-100 years old. You can work with people across the lifespan.

If you get bored easily, this profession is for you.

If you want challenge, this profession is for you.

If you want job satisfaction, this job is for you.

You are addressing clients as people first. They’re not just diagnoses. You wear many hats. You get to bring in what you’re passionate about into your sessions – be it mindfulness, yoga, coloring, and music in order to provide therapeutic benefits to your clients. You can get paid to play while addressing motor skills, social skills, self-regulation and emotional regulation skills.

You get to be silly and five different accents.

You get to make them laugh.

You get to know them real well, what makes them tick, and what makes you tick.

You get to experience what it’s like to be in their shoes and the caregivers’ shoes.

You wonder about the impact you’re making when clients show limited progress or low motivation.

You try harder to connect with them. Through understanding their stories, you try to find some commonality and also a way to bond with them, to get their buy in.

You realize the importance of working with caregivers because you know that your time with them is limited.

You bring them peace of mind.

You talk about consistency in home programs.

You try to connect them to outside/community resources the best you can.

You bring your whole self in, and sometimes, it’s exhausting, and you know you wouldn’t have it any other way.

You know that hope is a four-letter word that bond you to them.

You roll up your sleeves and try again and again.

You think about how to make the most out of your sessions the next time.

You find yourself spending your own money on adaptive tools that could better your clients’ lives.

You don’t give up.

You keep on going with a smile on your face.

You forgive yourself. You forgive others.

You learn more about yourself and more about life.

You don’t take life for granted.

You don’t sweat the small things anymore.

You end up making the best out of every interaction.

This is why I love being an OT.


More info at: www.aota.org |  Image from:www.akota.org

1 Comment

  1. Jessica Lu

    April 12, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Hello Alisa. This has to be a nice job which must be so meaningful for a lot of people.

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