With the help of an occupational therapist, individuals can find peace and strength in renewed skills and increased quality of life.
In our blog on the role of an occupational therapist, we’ll answer the following questions:
- What is an occupational therapist?
- What is the main role of an occupational therapist?
- Why would someone see an occupational therapist?
- What are 3 responsibilities of an occupational therapist?
- What is occupational therapy for adults?
What is an Occupational Therapist?
An occupational therapist, or OT, helps one develop skills that are essential to their everyday lives. This type of therapist has graduated from an accredited occupational therapy program with at least a master’s degree in occupational therapy. Additionally, they must complete fieldwork, pass a certification exam, and have an accepted license before practicing.
Like an OT, occupational therapy assistants will graduate from an accredited program; but with only an associate’s degree. These assistants will work closely with OTs and spend frequent hands-on time with patients to create treatment plans and track patient progress.
Finally, an OT is different from a physical therapist or PT. A physical therapist works to reduce pain, improve strength, and increase mobility, while an occupational therapist improves general life skills. This includes more than just physical attributes, as cognitive, communication, and mental health aspects are also considered.
What is the Main Role of an Occupational Therapist?
Primarily, occupational therapists help their clients develop skills to live independently. Improving the techniques of daily tasks can benefit a person’s general quality of life. These life skills include:
- Fine motor skills- including brushing your teeth, getting dressed, holding cutlery, holding pencils, or using a phone.
- Gross motor skills- including running, swimming, driving, and correcting body posture.
- Visual motor skills- including reading, writing, tracing, and hand-eye coordination.
- Cognitive skills- including sensory identification, memory, logic, and reasoning.
- Coping skills- including cooking, cleaning, and listening to music.
- Social skills- including maintaining eye contact or making conversation.
While these tasks may seem mindless, easy, or routine to most people, they are essential to learn for those who know them as a challenge. These skills can be difficult to perform due to mental health disorders, injuries, illnesses, disabilities, or age. Still, no matter the cause, an occupational therapist can help you develop increased success in these areas.
Why Would Someone See an Occupational Therapist?
If a caretaker of a child, or adult individual, notices daily difficulties in physical, sensory, or cognitive areas of life, it may be time to seek professional help from an occupational therapist. This can help one grow in independence, reduce physical pain, break down emotional barriers, and efficiently perform “normal” functions.
What are 3 Responsibilities of an Occupational Therapist?
While occupational therapists treat an umbrella of abilities and behaviors, their responsibilities fall into three broad categories. This includes:
- Evaluating their patient’s current condition and needs.
- Developing treatment plans and creating patient goals.
- Conducting treatments in a safe environment with tools such as adaptive equipment.
Each of these is essential for the proper diagnosis and execution of one’s developmental plan. This will also help evaluate the surrounding environment and determine how the environment is hindering or progressing occupational growth.
What is Occupational Therapy for Adults?
Occupational therapy for adults focuses on mature skills and improved quality of life. By promoting mental health coping mechanisms and teaching leisure/self-care essentials, adults can begin to overcome their problems for a more independent life. This will give them the ability to perform daily tasks with ease and feel more confident in themselves as a person.
As seen with age, older adults may begin losing skills they once confidently had. An OT can help individuals regain these skills through strength and will then prolong their independence of care.
Adults can access occupational therapy through a private practice or a doctor’s recommendation. Occasionally, children can access free occupational therapy programs through their schools. While this type of therapy can be covered by insurance, always check with your provider before beginning services.
Occupational therapists can work with people of all ages, ensuring that individuals can quickly complete occupational tasks. Whether that is through physical or mental skills, an increase in self-confidence will be an evident result.