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What is occupational therapy?

occupational therapy student works with client on skills needed to prepare food in a kitchen

Occupational therapy is a profession that helps people live their fullest lives by being able to participate in everyday activities. Everyday activities include self care, home and financial management, work, school, and engagement in social participation and leisure.

The occupational therapist's unique contribution to health care is the focus on preventing illness and facilitating wellness by providing strategies to continue in meaningful everyday activities. 

Who is an occupational therapist?

An occupational therapist enters the field with a degree at the graduate level while the occupational therapy assistant generally earns an associate degree. Practitioners must complete supervised clinical internships in a variety of health care settings, and pass a national examination.

Most states also regulate occupational therapy practice through licensure. Occupational therapists are diverse in age, gender, religion, sexuality, and previous life experiences.

occupational therapist works with child using sparring and martial arts

With whom do occupational therapists work?

Occupational therapy practitioners work with individuals of all ages with conditions that cause developmental disabilities or acquired disability affecting cognitive, visual, physical, and/or emotional skills. Occupational therapists help people to develop, recover, or maintain everyday skills for activities they find meaningful.

Career outlook

Occupational therapy is a career which continues to be in high demand across the country. As the general population ages and advances in health care extend lives, the role of the occupational therapist is critical to individuals, families and communities.

occupational therapists works on swimming with child with autism

Learn about the profession and projections on future employment opportunities in the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook and the American Occupational Therapy Association's job outlook section.

Prospective Students

Thinking about a career in occupational therapy? Visit the American Occupational Therapy Association for information about educational preparation and career opportunities. Additionally, contact the KU Department of Occupational Therapy Education for individual advising.


See Also: KOTAonline.org: Kansas Occupational Therapy Association

Last modified: Jul 12, 2018
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