Department of Occupational Therapy
Occupational Therapy is a profession dedicated to helping people achieve well-being through occupation. The term “occupation” represents the flow of activities that fill a person’s life and that have an effect on his or her health. Occupational therapy is particularly concerned with how people construct meaningful lives individually and in community.
In the view of Occupational Therapy, well-being is achieved through an active, dynamic and evolving balance between the person and his or her environment. Occupational therapists intervene when illness, disability, or social constraints threaten the person’s ability to actively create or find that balance. Because Occupational Therapy views people as multi-dimensional beings, it blends knowledge from the biological and social sciences into a unique, distinct, and holistic profession. In order to use occupation strategically, occupational therapists have expertise in how the body, mind, and spirit work together to produce occupations as simple as feeding oneself or as complex as leading a hundred-piece orchestra.
Occupational therapists help individuals develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills of all types. Clients of occupational therapy can be of any age, from newborns to the elderly. Sometimes the focus may be on improvement of basic motor functions or reasoning abilities. At other times, living or work environments may need to be modified. Regardless of the type of client or need, the goals for intervention ultimately are to help clients participate as fully as possible in society.
Occupational Therapy has been an established profession for more than 85 years. Since early on in the profession’s history, occupational therapists have worked in hospitals, schools, and community health centers. Building on a common professional foundation, occupational therapists may work in specialty areas such as pediatrics, school systems, physical and industrial rehabilitation, mental health, and hand therapy. Most occupational therapists are employed in school systems and rehabilitation and mental health hospitals. Other major employers include nursing homes, home health agencies, residential care facilities, and community centers. Some occupational therapists are self-employed in private practice. They often provide direct treatment to clients referred by physicians or other health professionals, or provide consulting and contract services to schools, daycare programs, nursing homes and a variety of community organizations.