occupational therapy, OT Student Success, Uncategorized

OT: The Art and Science Therapy

“The profession of occupational therapy will flourish because occupation, its core, is so basic to human health yet so flexible, depending on the needs of the individual human being.”


otco2016 (3)
USA Occupational Therapy Class of 2016



occupational balance

You may think you have never before been exposed to the wonderfuldynamic, and always present OT world, but in actuality you experience it everyday through the meaningful activities (occupations)that consume your time.

Everyone no matter their background, beliefs, culture, ethnicity, gender, age, disorder, disability, diagnoses, political opinion, it doesn’t matter–everyone-deserves to experience occupations.

Therefore, it is also important that the general public and even other healthcare professionals widen their horizon and come to terms with the benefits of occupational therapy. Be mOTivated to expand your knowledge on how this profession may impact you or your loved ones.

As a profession that has been around for 100 years (next year), it is my hope to advocate and educate others on the field I fell in love with and felt God’s hands pushing me toward many years ago-aka since 9th grade of high school (in addition to advocating for sunshine’s profession as a future doctor of osteopathic medicine, I hope to always be an advocate of occupational therapy!)

In this first OT Post I will share some of the questions some of my friends and family members have asked me about in regards to the profession that is both an art and a science!!

So is occupational therapy (OT) like physical therapy (PT)…

No, not quite. Yes, physical therapists and occupational therapists often co-treat and attend to the same clients. Yes, they often will collaborate to design and implement the most appropriate client-centered intervention plan and goals. And yes, they both integrate their therapeutic use of self during the treatment session to build rapport and develop trust with each individual client. To be honest, there is a lot of overlap; however, there are definite and notable differences that I will expand on later. Nevertheless, both professions are blessed to inspire and improve the functional outcomes of an individual at oftentimes a very personal level.

“occupation”- activity in which an individual client is engaged// “physical”- of or pertaining to the body

PT perspective: great knee extension a few days post my second ACL reconstruction surgery


OT perspective: look at that community mobility and resilience

Physical therapists are here to help restore your mobility. They are well-versed in the anatomy and physiology of the body and are predominantly utilized in the physical rehabilitation of individuals recovering from injuries or diseases. These professional healthcare workers also work in a variety of settings. PTs help you manage your pain and also may teach preventative methods as well. PTs are well-equipped to prepare and implement individualized patient plans. They are concerned with muscle strength and overall motor development. They are very important and after four clinical rotations (level 1 fieldwork) where I collaborated with them in addition to -from my own personal experience as a stubborn but very diligent patient- three knee surgeries later, I love my PT friends.

Occupational therapists also take into consideration the physical rehabilitation standpoint, but with a twist. We like to see y’all get back to performing those activities of daily living–the meaningful occupations of your day-to-day life–in the way that is most functional and easiest for you! Through the therapeutic use of occupations, we are healthcare professionals that are dedicated to helping our clients meet their occupational needs. In addition to using occupations as one of our modes of therapy intervention, we take into consideration the client’s context and think of nifty environmental modifications. We are very crafty with our modifications and utilize assistive technology as needed. An understanding of mental health is very important to OTs, because we design intervention plans that can be graded down or up depending on the client’s abilities and skill sets.                 OT is awesome, just saying.

My PT friends will help you walk, but OTs will TEACH YOU TO DANCE 🙂 and dance with you!

occupational therapy & osteopathic medicine = dynamic dancing duo


But occupational therapists help you find jobs right?

Well yes, but no because that is literally like a teeny tiny fraction of what an occupational therapy practitioner can do for you. For instance, perhaps you have worked as an auto-mechanic for the past 20 years but now you are having difficulty performing your work tasks due to decreased function of your hands and shortness of breath. Well an OT working as an ergonomic consultant (which is probably the last setting/area of practice I see myself working in) can do a plethora of things for you such as…..   

  1. advocate for your supervisor to give you increased time to complete your duties
  2. perform a Work Capacity Evaluation-a universal full body test that addresses how one performs the tasks necessary to succeed in a specific job and also entails a detailed interview that determines the consistencies of work performance and more
  3. recommend you have a schedule that includes increased rest breaks and/or determine if any of the work duties can be executed in a seated position rather than standing
  4. create a home exercise program that is tailored to fit and improve your strengthening and endurance abilities.. the list goes on —-and that is only one of many settings where an OT can work
    1. ***in the future will expand on each of the environments an OT can work through individual posts about the different settings such as in a hospital setting, inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehab, hand clinics, schools, skilled nursing facilities, and many more***


Well then what does the term “occupation” mean if OT is not really about finding people jobs?

The term “occupation” refers to meaningful activities. From an OT lens, it is through the therapeutic use of these everyday life occupations (not to mention evidence-based of course) that a client’s functional well-being can be restored to enable participation in multiple settings. Occupations may be simple, ordinary things such as reading your favorite magazine, babysitting your neighbor’s children, driving to the local grocery store… but also they may be special such as when you master cooking the family Christmas dinner or when you mindfully choose to volunteer your time at like a youth church group.  Perhaps the best way to describe/define occupations is to reference the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework-3rd Edition.

“Occupations are various kinds of life activities in which individuals, groups, or populations engage, including activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, rest and sleep, education, work, play, leisure, and social participation.”


The following occupations exemplify occupation-based interventions in skilled therapy sessions used to facilitate growth or change in client factors (body functions, body structures, values, beliefs, and spirituality)…

IADL/education-community outreach


  • ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING (ADLs)–these are the basic activities you do everyday to take care of yourself and are the fundamentals people!!
    • Bathing, toileting, dressing, eating, feeding, functional mobility, personal device care, personal hygiene, sexual activity
  • INSTRUMENTAL ACTIVITIES OF LIVING (IADLs)–these are those activities you do to support your home and community; more difficult typically than ADLs
    ADL-eating; IADL-thanks for the weekly meal after mass, South Alabama Catholic Student Association
    • Care of others, care of pets, child rearing, communication management, driving and community mobility, financial management, health management and maintenance, home establishment and management, meal preparation and cleanup, religious and spiritual activities, safety and emergency maintenance, shopping
  • REST AND SLEEP–restorative rest and sleep are vital to optimal functioning in your favorite activities
    • Rest, sleep preparation, sleep participation

      work/education/leisure-studying poolside in the “winter”
  • EDUCATION–these refer to what you need to do learn and participate in educational environments
    • Formal educational participation, informal personal educational needs, interests exploration
  • WORK–because you can’t play all the time; this occupation includes the actual labor it takes to perform a task; how you organize, plan, or execute the task; constructing, manufacturing, or creating something with or without monetary reward
    • Employment interests and pursuits, employment seeking and acquisition, job performance, retirement preparation and adjustment, volunteer exploration, volunteer participation
  • PLAY–adults play too!! This refers to spontaneous
    education/social participation-3 semesters worth of research with my mindfulness fam

    or organized activity that provides you with entertainment, diversion, or enjoyment

    • Play exploration, play participation
  • LEISURE–include leisure in your everyday life or you my friend will have a terrible case of occupational imbalance… This occupation refers to participating in nonobligatory activities in your discretionary time. These are the intrinsically motivated activities you do when you aren’t boggled down with life demands such as work, self-care, or sleep
    • Leisure exploration, leisure participation
  • SOCIAL PARTICIPATION–All beings are occupational. All beings need to interact with each other!! This occupation refers to an interweaving of occupations to support community engagement. All about being social and creating interdependence
    • Community, family, peer, friend


While many occupations seem “ordinary”, it is only through the individual client’s perception that these activities transform into meaningful occupations.

With love,


For more information on physical therapy check out APTA.org

For more information on occupational therapy check out AOTA.org

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2014). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process (3rd ed.). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(Suppl. 1), S1-S48.

8 thoughts on “OT: The Art and Science Therapy”

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