The role of an occupational therapist can be hugely rewarding by helping others to overcome a number of difficulties. Looking at the day-to-day experience of an occupational therapist, we hope to help you understand whether it is the sort of career that would suit you.
What does being an occupational therapist involve?
The main aim of an occupational therapist is to help clients overcome physical and mental issues that may be caused by an illness, accident, or simply as a result of old age. They could help prevent long term disabilities and give patients a sense of independence by providing one-on-one support and advice.
Much of your everyday work would depend on the specific needs of your client as every patient will require a specialised routine and treatment programme dependent on their particular condition.
Some examples of work may include teaching stroke victims how to dress themselves again or encouraging a mental health patient to remain positive, perhaps suggesting that they take up a hobby. You may also be required to support and advise individuals on a programme that would enable them to return to work following an accident or disability as well as helping them to adjust their home life following a change in their physical wellbeing.
Although most occupational therapists start out working with a range of individuals, each of whom may have a diverse range of needs, over time many choose to specialise in certain areas.
For example, individuals may choose to focus on one of the following:
- Clients requiring plastic surgery following a fire or another accident
- Stroke or heart attack rehabilitation
- Spinal injuries
- Mental health issues
- Children and young people (paediatrics)
- Community disability services
Occupational therapists may work with patients over a prolonged period of time or just a handful of sessions, but in either case they must be motivated and passionate about the health of their clients.
Although a job as an occupational therapist comes with a number of challenges, the fact that it gives individuals the opportunity to help others is also hugely rewarding. If you are thinking about a career in occupational therapy you must have good communication skills, a desire to help others, a creative approach to work and a good sense of humour. With these skills in place, the role offers a number of benefits.
Work is often hugely varied, taking place in different environments and made up of different challenges. This helps to keep the role from feeling repetitive or boring. Perhaps most important of all, it is a position where progress and success are easy to quantify and measure.
Seeing one of your clients overcome adversity to return to work, walk unaided or simply gain a greater level of independence than they had previously, makes all of the challenges worthwhile. It may not be for everyone, but if you have a strong motivation to help others and can inspire those around you, then it could be the ideal career for you.