What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapists help people do the things they want to do, improving their sense of satisfaction and contributing to their subsequent well-being. Occupational therapists work with clients who may have experienced trauma, illness, or developmental issues, or who may simply want to improve their health and happiness. In helping clients gain greater self-awareness through everyday activities, occupational therapists facilitate the client's ability to engage in "occupations" which give meaning to the person's life.

Where Do Occupational Therapists Work?

Occupational therapists work with individuals from every age group and community, and they may work in a variety of settings, including business and industrial workplaces, community-based programs (homeless shelters, athletic clubs, group homes), health agencies, hospitals, schools, and rehabilitation centers. More experienced practitioners can advance into management, specialization, teaching or research.

What is the Employment Outlook for Occupational Therapists?

There continues to be a high demand for qualified occupational therapists both in traditional and in emerging areas of practice. Societal and cultural changes have contributed to expanded opportunities for occupational therapy services. The following markets are emerging as opportunities for occupational therapists:

  • Ergonomics Consulting
  • Driver Rehabilitation and Training
  • Accessibility Consulting and Home Design
  • Low Vision Services
  • Technology and Assistive Device Development and Consulting
  • Health and Wellness Consulting
  • Welfare to Work Programs
  • Mental Health Services for Children and Youth

What Type of People Thrive as Occupational Therapists?

Successful occupational therapists are warm, caring and sociable. Curiosity and creativity are also vital characteristics of an OT, because each client's situation requires a unique, personalized approach. Other important characteristics include:

  • Ability to "see the big picture"
  • Solid critical analysis skills
  • Inquisitiveness and a tendency to ask "why"
  • Strong problem solving abilities
  • Flexibility, as each client's situation is unique
  • Patience and the ability to help others help themselves

If you are innately curious and analytical, you might make a great occupational therapist!