April is Occupational Therapy Month, and we’re so excited about our online Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program that is now accepting applications for Fall 2018!
Occupational Therapy is a profession that focuses on the concept of well-being. In short, “occupations” are the things people do each day that have meaning and importance to their lives. Occupations may be related to our careers, our personal interests, and the things we are passionate about. Typically, occupations include self-care, work, play, leisure, rest, and sleep. These may sound straightforward and almost mundane, but when a person lacks or loses the ability to do one or more of these occupations, it is difficult to recover.
What Do OTs Do?
For most, occupational therapy work translates into helping clients with basic self-care, such as being able to wash and dress yourself or maintain the daily tasks of your household. In addition, the OT profession is focused across the lifespan and includes working with people to help them develop, achieve, or adapt how they participate in activities that have meaning to them, so that their life is satisfactory and rewarding. OTs, no matter where they work, support people to help them reach their goals and achieve their personal best.
Common Areas of Practice
Many OTs work with people who have mental illness or emotional distress. For example, an OT might aid someone who has a phobia. Perhaps this person experiences heightened anxiety when their phobia activates. As a result, he or she may find it difficult to leave home and go out into the community, causing them to become socially isolated. Over time, this can lead to a host of complications, including depression.
In this situation, an occupational therapist would work with the client to help them set realistic goals. Over time, with the right support, the client might leave home and embrace activities that make them happy—go back to the movies, see a museum, take a trip to the beach, walk in the park. Whatever it is, an occupational therapist can help a client to regain participation in his or her own life.
OTs also work extensively with children. For children, the main occupation is play. When we play, we practice living while trying to imitate others who are doing what we wish we were doing. For a child who is clumsy, an occupational therapist could work with him or her to improve motor control and help them achieve the process of doing whatever it is they desire to do.
For a child in a wheelchair, mobility is often not independent because someone else has to push or help maneuver the chair. In this scenario, an OT might be able to assist the child with a power-adapted chair, helping them learn how to control their own movement. Moving on one’s own is a form of freedom and can positively impact a person’s perception of joy.
For adults, an OT could help with lifestyle redesign. For a client that is having difficulty leaving their home for whatever reason, an OT would help them reintegrate into community activities and aid them back into the process of participating with others.
The Difference OTs Can Make
A recent study, Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-Analytic Review (Holt-Lunstad, 2010), found that social relationships may be just as important to one’s health as the other behaviors that we try to control in order to promote a healthy lifestyle (diet, exercise, mental health, etc.) Occupational therapists work within a social model of care and promote the bio-psycho-social balance of living. In short, they work to make sure their client finds meaning is whatever it is he or she wants to do.
As the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child,” but it also takes a village to keep all people in the village active, participatory, and engaged in living their lives.
Want to learn more about earning your post-professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate online at JWU? Complete the “Request Info” form on this page or call 855-JWU-1881.