What is OT?

Occupational therapy (a.k.a. OT) is a holistic profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities, also known as “occupations”.*  We use these occupations as both the intervention and outcome of therapy. Hence the name “occupational therapy”.

When it comes to pediatrics, this means we OTs are really good at providing intervention by engaging kids in their primary childhood occupation — PLAY! But pediatric occupational therapists don’t “just” play. We provide individualized therapeutic intervention to help kids improve their performance in occupations such as eating, sleeping, self-care, and learning by addressing underlying difficulties like fine motor, problem solving, attention, and sensory processing skills (to name a few). We also take into account the effect of a task’s difficulty on the child’s performance, as well as the role of the physical and social environment.

We are creative, scientific, and evidence-based. We are masters of modification and expert task analyzers. We love what we do and are passionate about making a positive difference in the lives of children, their families, and their communities.

Can you tell I love being an OT?!

It is my hope that, as you continue the journey with Mama OT, you will gain even more insight into the incredibly powerful — and fun! — field of occupational therapy.

Check out this video for a simple yet powerful depiction of the role occupational therapists play in helping people be able to say, “I can!” no matter what their disability or struggle.

*Description adapted from website for the American Occupational Therapy Association.

23 thoughts on “What is OT?

  1. I have a Bachelor’s in Human Communication Studies. Currently, I’m a technical writer and editor who does occasional training seminars…

    But this is my dream job. :) I just hope I can get into a Master’s program someday…

    Love your blog!

    • Thanks for reading! One of OT’s strengths is its diversity. So many different kinds of people who thrive in this field. Feel free to email me at mamaotblog[at]gmail[dot]com if you want to talk more about how to get involved in the field.

  2. Pingback: Messy play with homemade puffy paint | Mama OT

  3. What a great definition. I am a student in an OTA program and even after 2 quarters defining OT people is so difficult unless they have seen or experienced it. I love OT and am so happy that I am on my way to being a practitioner next year.

  4. Pingback: Parenting Dilemmas | walking by faith

  5. I am a COTA/L and I love my job working with kids in the schools. It is rewarding and keeps me young at heart. When teaching handwriting I love using gross motor movements to teach letters increase memory often combining writing on a wall with a lg. paint brush, chalk etc. love the cards. I have made these similar for years adding points to the cards and when written correctly the child e
    Prints the #on the wall we tally our points adding math concepts greater/ less etc. the kids love all the movements and playing the game to out do the Ot.

  6. I accidently found this blog and love it! As a new grandmother after 19 years, I was searching info about the bumbo chair! After reading this blog….I am not going to buy it! I don’t want to prevent any developmental stages with my sweet grand daughter. Thanks!!!

  7. Nice article – I work as a Home Health OT and help children to seniors. Occupational Therapy Jobs are the most rewarding. I have been an OT for 8 years and everyday is a new day to make someone happy. Just found this site today! Good Job!

  8. I’m a Marriage Family Therapist and love doing therapy with young children. I’ve worked as a private school therapist and worked with children, parents and families who have had their children removed due to abuse and neglect (hoping to teach parenting and coping skills and a strong commitment to substance abuse recovery so that their families can be reunited). As a new grandmother of 2 (and a 3rd on the way) I’m hoping to always learn more professionally and provide my grandchildren a rich childhood experience. Your website is awesome and I look forward to reading you’re articles. Thank You

  9. Pingback: 5 Things to Consider Before a Career in Occupational TherapyMama OT

  10. Good Website and Blog. Please share some more insights for students who want to get into OT school and the current pays and benefits on in different states. Lots of amazing information on this website.

  11. Thank You. I just browsed through your whole website and I found the link. I wanted to know is there a possibility for OTs to become entrepreneurs in future at companies
    ? Just a thought.. I know their typical career paths would be to become a Rehab Director, Hand Therapist and such likes.. but have you seen or met any therapist be a company spokesperson or work in healthcare companies at all? What opportunities do they have working in corporate?

  12. I like your blog but as a pediatric PT l think PTS deserve credit for crawling and motor activities as well. If a child has motor difficulties both OT and PT evals and treatment would be a good recommendation

    • I agree! I have had physical therapists guest post on many topics related to motor development, and my Developmental Milestones page (http://MamaOT.com/developmental-milestones) is filled with links to physical therapists’ blogs to help parents better understand issues related to infant development. PTs play a CRUCIAL part in supporting motor development!

  13. How can OT students train themselves to become leaders in OT? Any OTs you know go on to become Entrepreneurs or work in corporate?

    • There are many ways to become a leader in OT. Some graduate programs (such as the one I attended) have a strong emphasis on leadership development and provide opportunities within their program to develop leadership skills and to participate in leadership opportunities. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has a program called the “Emerging Leaders Development Program.” Those who have been practicing in OT for less than 5 years can apply. It is a competitive program that selects a small number of new OTs to participate in leadership training and a year-long service learning leadership program with the guidance a mentor who is a leader in AOTA. Other companies/employers may offer opportunities for growth in leadership as well. There is no “one way” to be a leader in OT. Every OT can be a leader in their own way. If you want to be a leader in OT in a specific way, then it’s your responsibility to take the intitiative to pave the path you’d like to pursue and establish important connections and networking opportunities to point you in the right direction.

      • Yes. I have read about that program but I would like to know is really what does AOTA teach to their students – Do these students go on to do research on mainstay issues within OT or become healthcare managers ? Trying to understand what exactly does ‘leadership’ mean in OT field ? Btw, your blog is very informative. I am in the process of doing an interview with a college soon for their MOT program. Hoping I get through. Its a group Interview with 3 students interviewed together. On a side note, I am wondering whether a D( Doctorate) of OT or a Phd in Health Sciences allows one to teach at Universities?

      • I don’t know that I can directly answer your question because “leadership” means many different things and can take on many different forms in many different aspects of OT or other related healthcare professions, and I don’t have hard and fast “data” to give you.

        Here are some links with more info on the AOTA Emerging Leaders Development Program:
        http://www.aota.org/Education-Careers/Advance-Career/ELDP.aspx
        http://www.aota.org/publications-news/aotanews/2014/tips-from-emerging-leaders.aspx
        http://otpotential.com/blog/eldp

        In order to teach at an OT program, you need a doctorate level degree, which can be either an OTD or PhD. If you are wanting to teach in a program other than OT, then it would really depend on what university you would be interested in teaching at and in what type of program. Best of luck!

  14. Pingback: Why Occupational Therapy is Awesome - Therapy Source

  15. Thank You for the reply. I looked at the links. I follow AOTA very closely. Recently I went for a College Interview for a Masters Program and they told me that OT professors in their college do not always possess a PhD Qualification. OT as a profession always requires us to teach starting with clients. But to teach at College level , he told me I can finish my Masters and still apply to some teaching jobs. Especially private colleges. The reason I ask is , I want to teach too but do not want to pursue a PhD for sure. I want to specialize in Hand Therapy after a few years of OT practice. OT is great.

So, whadya think?