Occupational therapy is projected to be one of the fastest growing jobs in the upcoming years. This job has the potential to be an exciting career for someone interested in a healthcare profession. One of the rewarding things about being an occupational therapist is the ability to help people reach their goals while earning a good salary and benefits. Occupational therapists help people across their lifespan by increasing their range of motion on their joints and helping people get back to their daily lives. Learning more about the origins of occupational therapy, what an occupational therapist does, how to become an occupational therapist, and what the job outlook is for this career may help someone make an informed decision about their potential career path.
Occupational therapy has been around for a long time. There is proof of occupational therapy methods for the mentally ill found in ancient times as early as 100 BCE (Quiroga). These therapies included: therapeutic baths, massages, exercise, and music. By medieval times the humane treatment of people considered to be insane was almost non-existent. By the 1900’s, the reform of healthcare for the mentally ill was refreshed through the work of occupational therapy. During World War I, soldiers returning from the field were treated by “reconstruction aides” made up primarily of women trying to “do their part” to help the country during war time. Their treatments included many of the techniques used in modern occupational therapy. After the war many people abandoned these therapeutic practices because the emphasis became more on financial and professional gain rather than helping the war effort. To help bring people back to the profession the American Occupational Therapy Association increased the medical legitimacy of the profession in 1920 by creating steady employment, better working conditions and decent wages. Since that time there have been many different philosophies about occupational therapy and appropriate treatments. One of the most recent and effective philosophies is the Canadian Model of Client Centered Enablement. This practice offers client-centered therapies to enable people to function in various occupations (“What is Occupational Therapy”, 4). After learning about the origins of occupational therapy we now need to look more specifically about what an occupational therapist does.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Occupational Therapy is defined as:
Therapy based on engagement in meaningful activities of daily life (as self-care skills, education, work, or social interaction) especially to enable or encourage participation in such activities despite impairments or limitations in physical or mental functioning. (“Occupational Therapy” - Merriam-Webster ).
This is a general definition and there is no typical way to describe an occupational therapist. They encounter many different types of clients and work in a variety of professional...