The Occupational Therapist (OT)

The Occupational Therapist (OT) is a healthcare professional who uses a holistic approach to helping people find healing through therapies that incorporate day to day activities the client needs to complete. By helping people finish their daily activities a sense of self-sufficiency and empowerment is built up in the client. This promotes the recovery and maintenance of health both in terms of physical and mental well-being. Some examples might include working with people who are disabled so they are able to complete their daily tasks with as little assistance as possible. This is achieved by creating interventions and problem solving techniques that empower the individual to complete tasks that might otherwise seem daunting to the client. The Occupational Therapist (OT) also helps people recover from injuries in a similar manner by customizing the environment, tools and methods of completing day to day tasks of the client who is recovering from their injury.

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The main skills and personal strengths required to be an Occupational Therapist are compassion, empathy, active listening, careful evaluation and analysis, client rapport and ability to recognize and implement appropriate interventions. Some of these skills might be inborn, but in most cases even those people who have natural talents will need to hone these skills to a professional level through education, training and experience. In order to fully embrace this career and operate at an optimal level, the Occupational Therapist (OT) must have an outlook of truly wanting to help their fellow human beings overcome difficulties and find their inner and outer strengths. Some people have this as an innate desire; others are able to cultivate this feeling until they have reached their full potential as therapists.

Some of the day to day duties of an Occupational Therapist might include, but are not limited to:

  • Thorough analysis and evaluation of client capabilities and goals
  • Careful study and analysis of home, workplace and/or school environments to understand the challenges client may face in completing day to day tasks
  • The thoughtful creation of interventions, plans and use of adaptive equipment to help the client reach their educational, work or lifestyle goals of self-sufficiency and success
  • The periodic review and analysis of the efficacy of applied interventions, plans and use of adaptive equipment
  • Coaching sessions with clients, families, colleagues and teachers to make sure everyone is working cohesively in support of the client as the work to implement interventions
  • Making sure that the entirety of the coaching and intervention process is achieving the clients personal goals and adjusting strategies to ensure goals are met

Educational Requirements to Become an Occupational Therapist

In order to become a licensed Occupational Therapist (OT) you will need to have a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy or a closely related field. You will then need to go on to apply for and complete a Master’s of Occupational Therapy degree. Every state requires licensure for Occupational Therapists, (OT) so you will need to contact your state’s licensing board and find out its specific requirements. In most cases, this will be a Master’s degree from an accredited institution of higher learning as well as supervised work experience and the successful passing of a licensure examination as determined by your state’s board of licensure. In most cases the certification examination is the National Certification Examination which is created and administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

How the Occupational Therapist Services Human Beings

Through a philosophy of personal empowerment and instilling a sense of self-sufficiency in their client’s, the Occupational Therapist (OT) is able to help radically shift the perspective of their clients. This has a profoundly positive impact on their client as well as the client’s family, friends and co-workers. The client is taught skills and given strategies and adaptive technologies to help them overcome perceived barriers to completing their essential daily tasks. The client will emerge from the therapy vastly more capable, self-sufficient and healthier both physically and mental/emotionally. This has nothing short of a life-changing effect on the client and a greatly increased sense of well-being.

How the Occupational Therapist Impacts Society

Through the empowerment of individuals who are overcoming injury or disability the Occupational Therapist (OT) is helping to free up resources and potential within society via newly self-sufficient, capable and empowered individuals. This has a cascade effect as members of society who had felt they were unable to complete day to day tasks no longer need additional help, but are in fact able to find inner strength and the ability to fully express themselves through creative and productive activities as fully empowered members of society.

Perhaps one of the greatest examples of someone using adaptive technologies to continue their work and overcome disability is that of Stephen Hawking arguably the greatest physicist of our time. Through the use of adaptive technology Dr. Hawking not only continued his work, but provided the world with profound scientific breakthroughs that will continue to impact the world for decades. It is impossible to say what kind of huge impacts newly empowered members of society will have, but the impact of the Occupational Therapist (OT) is not in question.

Salary Expectations for Occupational Therapist’s

As an Occupational Therapist (OT) you will be able to command an excellent salary. This will vary from state to state and also things like education level, agency you work for and seniority will all impact your overall earning potential. However, the median yearly salary for an Occupational Therapist (OT) according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics is $72,320.

Next Steps

The first step on your path towards becoming an Occupational Therapist is to find an excellent school and program that fits your personal educational needs and goals. First you will need to complete your Bachelors of Occupational Therapy degree. After you have completed this degree you will need to find out what if any additional supplementary work or volunteer experience you may need to be accepted into the graduate program at the school of your choice. This can vary tremendously from program to program and you will want to contact them additionally to make sure you are clear about what if any additional expectations you will need. You will have to complete your Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and attain a sufficiently high score. Then you will need to go on to complete your Masters of Occupational Therapy. Once you have your Master of Occupational therapy you will need to contact your State’s licensing board or body for Occupational Therapy and complete the necessary supervised work experience and apply to take the licensing exam. The certification examination is usually the National Certification Examination which is created and administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Once you have passed the exam you will be ready to find work as an Occupational Therapist (OT).