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What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy helps people live their lives to the fullest by helping them participate in everyday activities, such as self-care, home and financial management, work, school, socializing and leisure.

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

We find that our program appeals to those who value science but who also look to build a connection to people across the lifespan - from babies to geriatrics and everyone else in between. Occupational therapists have an interest in the things that occupy an individual's life based upon their wants or needs.

Working from a strengths-based approach, we teach our students how to prevent illness and facilitate wellness by starting with what a person already does well and then build interventions based on those assessments. Within this therapeutic and interdisciplinary practice, you'll learn how to work with individuals in an authentic everyday context within their natural environment.

Who is an occupational therapist?

An occupational therapist enters the field with a degree at the graduate level. An 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.

Who do occupational therapists work with?

People seek the help of an occupational therapist for many different reasons. 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 in order to live a fuller life. Examples could include:

  • Someone recovering from injury who is working to regain physical skills
  • An older adult experiencing physical and cognitive changes
  • Children with disabilities gaining skills to participate fully in school and social situations
  • Research incorporating mindfulness and mediation to advance practices that support well-being
What are the career prospects?

Occupational therapy is a career that 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. Learn more about Career Paths in Occupational Therapy.

KU School of Health Professions

Occupational Therapy Education
KU Medical Center

3901 Rainbow Blvd  MS2003
Kansas City, KS 66160
913-588-7195 • 711 TTY