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A Reason to Look at a Career in Occupational Therapy

We have written many times about careers – how to find one and how to change one. One of the key aspects of finding a career that fits your life is to focus on what you enjoy doing. And, perhaps more importantly, how does the career fit your unique personality.

A desire to help other people is a characteristic of some personality types. The cool thing about this is that this characteristic can translate into your working life. A career that allows you to help people and make a great living can be very attractive to those with this trait.

Many people opt for careers that make them incredibly dissatisfied and unfulfilled. That is the last thing you want to do. Your career defines so much about you and takes up a great amount of your time. Why would you want a career that did not bring satisfaction and fulfillment?

Of course, one field that fits perfectly with those who like to help others is healthcare. Within this field, you may first only think about doctors or nurses. But beyond these traditional jobs, there are many career paths to choose from which are incredibly enriching. Not only that, but they can be very prosperous over the long term.

One such career you may not think of right away is one as an occupational therapist. Let’s explore that career a bit here today. 

The role of an occupational therapist

The main role of an occupational therapist is to enter into and intervene in a patient’s life. Their role is to treat people who are ill or injured or may have become disabled.  The difficult part about this is that these issues may have led them to have to quit or leave their job. So an OT steps in to help the patient develop, recover and improve on the skills they will need to live their daily life and to work.

It’s all about returning life to normal again. 

As you can imagine, in this field you could be exposed to a large variety of different people at all age brackets. And some of the cases may be quite difficult and take years to work through. A key to your success in this field will be being able to find and adapt to each patient to find the best treatment. No two cases will be exactly alike. So patience and adaptability will be two key traits to have. 

You will need to help people get stronger physically. But the mental side of recover will be just as important. People who need an OT will be looking to regain as much of their normal life as possible. You can play a bit role in that process. 

Not only are you able to see people return to their normal lives, but you bring them a sense of confidence. You also bring a new sense of being and purpose through their therapy sessions. For them, you can create the difference between just existing or living again. 

Related Content: Living is Worth the Risk – So Choose to Live! 

How to become an occupational therapist

Those who want to be occupational therapists should do a degree in occupational therapy studies. The subjects of study for this degree are extremely fascinating and touch on a lot of fields. These fields include healthcare obviously, but also psychology, behavioral sciences, and physiology. Of course, you will want to look at a school for occupational therapy that has the degree you are seeking.

There are many pathways that you can choose to pursue as an OT. Perhaps you like working with children. Or maybe adults are more to your liking. And even within the adult population you may want to specialize, like working exclusively with the elderly. Within your degree program you will begin to figure this out. But the real test will come once you start working. Then you will begin to learn which population is most attractive to you.

Another facet of occupational therapy you may not have considered is that it doesn’t mean you are necessarily stuck in a doctor’s office all the time. You may be based at different clinics, going to patients’ houses or running therapies at different hospitals. 

Like any other profession, this will require dedication. Any job in medicine is challenging but rewarding

Working with Children

Children’s occupational therapy can be incredibly rewarding. Let’s take a minute to focus in on that particular discipline within the field. 

In childhood, children learn through experience. The interaction with the world and these interactions teach them a lot. From this interaction, children learn and develop plenty about new situations that may arise in their lives.

Occupational therapy is a profession that aims to promote the child in the fields of daily functioning, learning, writing and motor skills. It is based on research in the field of child development and psychological theories. Occupational therapy treatments are provided for children with ADHD, learning disabilities, developmental delays, sensory difficulties and more.

Working with autistic children

Occupational therapists often work with children who have physical challenges stemming from disorders. This may include cerebral palsy or traumatic brain injury. Or they can even work with children that might have autism. Although children with autism do not suffer from major physical limitations, many struggles with specific challenges, including: 

  • Low motor tone (weak muscles)
  • Sensory dysfunction (too much or too little reaction to touch, sound, light, smell, or taste)
  • Difficulty in motor planning (lack of coordination)
  • Lack of copycat skills that help developing children usually learn acting skills and skills in daily life
  • Lack of social skills that help developing children usually learn how to engage in physical activity in a group setting

All these challenges can be faced through various forms of occupational therapy. Occupational therapists who work with autistic children may specialize in different therapies. These may include game therapy, handwritten therapy, sensory integration therapy, social skills therapy, and more.

So as you can see, a career in occupational therapy can go many different directions. You will learn many different therapies that you can apply in many different situations with many different populations. If you enjoy helping people, this may be a career for you to consider. 

Leave a Comment or Answer a Question Below: How did you figure out what career you wanted to have? Is helping others at your career part of what gives you satisfaction and fulfillment? 

Photo courtesy of Conscious Design on Unsplash

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