Thursday, October 31, 2013

Occupational Therapy in a Nutshell

Occupational Therapists: What Do They Really Do?

 

The role of an Occupational Therapist (OT) is always questioned when mentioned in conversation.There are many different types of OT: child, adult, home health, outpatient, etc. They work hand in hand with physical therapists, speech therapists, psychologists and often counselors. People always seem to ask: "Is it like Physical therapy?" "Does it only deal with a person's occupation?" etc.


Well, as I was researching the role of an OT, it was hard to find one simplified definition that would cover all aspects of occupational therapy. As I continued my search, I ran across a blog page that was discussing OT month, the month of April, and their topic was "How Kids Explain Occupational Therapy". A very unique post about the encounters of an OT specialist who generally works in a home health setting, strengthening children's abilities. She shared some conversations with children and parents and their views and responses to what they thought OT was. It is evident that many people actually have NO clue what OT specialists do and that during child interventions, a parents perception usually reflects on their children's. An example from her post was:


I figured I would just ask the simple question: “Do you know what occupational therapy is?” The children tried their best to answer this difficult question:
Child 1: “When you write letters?” (This poor guy was searching so hard for the correct answer.)
Child 2: “When you work on your visual skills.” (We mostly focus on visual-perception with this child, so bonus points for him.)
Child 3: “When you play in the gym.” (There goes that whole gym teacher stereotype again.)
Child 4: “When you make me do writing.” (This kind of makes me sound super mean.)
Child 5: “It’s a place you go to learn things.” (When I asked him what kinds of things, he was pretty certain that he could learn everything in OT. What a cool kid.)
Child 6: “Where you do fun things!” (Yes! I think this is the new Pediatric OT motto! Hey, it’s certainly better than “OT: Where we make you do writing.”)

 Majority of people get confused because so much of what OT professionals do is based in a person's "occupations," or their meaningful daily tasks. When you work with children, their main occupations include play. Many times it looks like they are just playing around, but every therapeutic technique/assessment has a purpose. Even then, there is still an unanswered question as to what they really do. 

Will people's perception of what OT do always be different? Everyone has different psychosocial aspects that affect the context of how they perceive things. A simple definition, in my own words, is that OT use a holistic approach when targeting the needs of individuals when developing, recovering or maintaining their daily lives and work skills; whether it be physical, mental or a developmental condition. 



What do you think the role of an OT is?

 

12 comments:

  1. This is an awesome blog post! My Aunt is an occupational therapist and she always tells me about her work. She works with adults, and it is so fascinating to me. I think that this blog gets a little bit more people informed about this awesome, life-changing, career. It is something that I have considered myself as a career choice and I am glad that others are becoming more and more aware of it! Good job!

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    1. Thank you so much! I appreciate your feedback and I am glad that you were able to become more informed. That is awesome!

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  2. I have no idea what an OT does! So reading this post was fun and interesting all at the same time! As soon as I read this, I called my friend who is a physical therapist and all he did was laugh at me and my ignorance! Thanks for sharing this and pointing out how stupid we really are :p heheheh

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    1. This made me laugh! Ha-ha. Thank you for your feedback!

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  3. I think it's interesting that occupational therapists are adaptive to what the client needs. Of course, all professionals within the health and social professions are, but OT even more so because it seems they deal with everyday tasks relative to the client.

    What made you want to pursue occupational therapy?

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    1. I wanted to pursue this career because I love helping people and I love how the human body works, the mind and all of that. So to be able to have the opportunity to maybe change someone's life in the future is just so fascinating to me. I truly have a passion for it!

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  4. It's obvious that people are unclear as to what OT's do. I love the dialogue between the therapist and the children because children in their simplicity answers in ways that adults hide. Children are not afraid to speak up and express what they really think and feel. This is enlightening and answered a couple of questions for me.

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    1. The dialogue was the cutest thing ever! Actually, that whole blog site was adorable! I agree with you in that children and so simple and you can actually learn a lot from them because they know no limits or boundaries!

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  5. At first I had a bad idea of what Occupational Therapy was, I thought it was someone who showed others forms of therapy. At my first semester at GMU I took the health professions course and we had a Occupational Therapist come in and explain what she did for a living. Everything in regards to helping someone do the most simplest of tasks was her job. It was something that opened my eyes and after learning what they do I have a lot of respect for them. Growing up I had career day at my elementary school and it may be a good thing if Occupational Therapists would be invited to schools to help kids learn more and even choose this as a future career.

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    1. I'm glad that your opinion changed about OT because it is such a great profession!

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  6. In my opinion, the role of an occupational therapist is to design a holistic approach to help individuals overcome physical, developmental, social and emotional challenges and barriers by creating simple & effective daily task activities and helping these individuals work to master these activities for an independent and productive life.
    Thanks for your blog, I did not know much about OT and what they actually did. I think it is wonderful career because the therapist is not limited but can assist clients from many directions.

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    1. Thank you for your feedback! Your idea of an OT is great!

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