OTA Program Overview of the Profession

Overview of the Profession

Occupational Therapy is an allied health profession that uses purposeful activities to help people regain, develop, and build skills for independent functioning. The personal health, well-being, security, and happiness of the individual are integral components of occupational therapy. In working with individuals across the life-span, occupational therapy practitioners provide specialized assistance to those who because physical injury, illness, psychological or developmental impairment, are in need of skills to enable them to achieve independence, self-satisfaction, and productivity.

Ten Ways to Define OT in 15 Words or Less

As occupational therapy students and practitioners (OTs and OTAs), it is our responsibility to promote our profession every day. However, many of us flounder when put on the spot with the question "What is occupational therapy?" It is essential that each individual be properly prepared for this all-important inquiry. It is important that we answer this inquiry thoroughly, yet succinctly, while correctly informing our audience and keeping their attention.

To facilitate this goal, a student OT Promotion task force developed the following list of responses to aid you in answering the question "What is occupational therapy?" This list is not all inclusive. It is simply a foundation. You should develop your own message to convey the essence and value of occupational therapy in your communities.

Former AOTA President Karen Jacobs, Ed.D., OTR/L, FAOTA, suggests asking the individual to name an activity that is important to them. Then ask them to imagine life without the ability to perform that activity. Now that occupational therapy has been made personal to your audience, use one of the following responses to help clarify how occupational therapy helps individuals regain function and independence in daily activities.

  1. Occupational therapy is working collaboratively with people to facilitate independence and wellness in an individual's life.
  2. Occupational therapy is a "client-centered" approach to achieve everyday health through functional activities.
  3. Occupational therapy assists people of all ages with disabilities to become independent in their daily activities.
  4. Occupational therapy promotes health and well-being of individuals in society through participation in meaningful occupation.
  5. Occupational therapy is the promotion of lifelong health and well-being to facilitate productive living.
  6. Occupational therapy means improving the quality of life by positively affecting everyday activities.
  7. Occupational therapy practitioners help individuals develop skills necessary to perform daily activities.
  8. Occupational therapy provides the tools to break down barriers to an individual's independence.
  9. Occupational therapy provides you with a balance of independence at home, at work, and at play.
  10. Occupational therapy teaches "skills for the job of living."

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