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Occupational Therapy: the profession few know about, but almost everyone could use

Updated: Feb 7, 2021

The most common response I get when I tell people I am an occupational therapist is: “Oh that’s great, so many people need help finding jobs”. If that would have been your response, don’t feel bad. The truth of the matter is that even though occupational therapy has been around as a profession for over 100 years, many people do not know what an occupational therapist does.

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy is a health and wellness profession that helps individuals and groups engage in the activities that they want and need to do in their everyday life.

An occupational therapist can work in a variety of different settings including, but not limited to: outpatient, inpatient rehab, acute care, schools, community based settings, and home care. Occupational therapy can look different between clients in the same setting depending on what an is meaningful to the individual.

What can an occupational therapist work on?

What an occupational therapist does really depends on what setting he/she is working in, as well as what population they are working with. Occupational therapy with a child in a school setting may look very different than occupational therapy with a new mother in a home based setting.

Areas an OT can address in Women’s Health:

Pelvic floor lengthening and strengthening


Biomechanical techniques to prevent overuse injuries

Maternal mental health, including postpartum depression

Latch when breastfeeding

Techniques for positioning when caring for baby

Returning to work after having baby

Pelvic Pain


Energy conservation techniques

Lymphedema management

Core strengthening


Areas an OT can address in a pediatric setting:

Fine Motor Skills needed for completing table top activities

Self dressing/self feeding skills

Gross Motor Skills

Visual Perceptual Skills

Visual tracking

Social Skills

Potty Training

Emotional Regulation

Feeding difficulties/ Picky Eating


Functional Play

Primitive Reflex integration


Occupational therapy vs. other professions

You may be asking yourself, what separates an occupational therapist from other professions? Can’t someone else do all of this? Well, the answer is kind of. Yes, there is some overlap of skills between other professions such as mobility and physical therapy, and feeding skills and speech therapy. However, occupational therapy offers a unique perspective on looking at the whole person, rather than just the problem. Yes you may be able to walk 50 feet and meet your physical therapy goals, but if you are able to get there but can’t complete toileting activities when you arrive, then you are still in need of skilled occupational therapy services to help you engage in the things you want and need to do in your everyday life. Every profession has their expertise. An occupational therapist’s expertise is function. They look at how you function in your everyday life, as well as what might be the cause, all while maintaining a holistic perspective.

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