Sometimes a developmental condition, physical or mental health problem stops us from doing all we want in life. An occupational therapist (OT) helps you to be able to do all the "jobs of living" (occupations) - taking care of yourself, working, or enjoying leisure activities.
The World Federation of Occupational Therapists provides the following definition of Occupational Therapy:"Occupational therapy is as a profession concerned with promoting health and well being through occupation. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by enabling people to do things that will enhance their ability to participate or by modifying the environment to better support participation." Occupational therapists use careful analysis of physical, environmental, psychosocial, mental, spiritual, political and cultural factors to identify barriers to occupation. Occupational therapy draws from the fields of medicine, psychology, sociology, anthropology, ethnography, architecture and many other disciplines in developing its knowledge base. A new discipline of occupational science has been developed to enhance the evidence base of the profession."
Occupational therapists understand how the mind (psychosocial) and body (physical) work together as we accomplish our day-to-day activities. OT's understand how injury, illness, developmental problems, the aging process and/or mental/emotional problems affect what we do each and every day (occupations).
In any of these settings occupational therapists help clients' perform their occupations - the self-care, paid or unpaid work and leisure activities that are important to them.
Imagine what life may be like if you couldn't bathe, feed or dress yourself because of an illness? What if returning to work following a major depression seemed too overwhelming? Is there life after a major injury?
Occupational therapists help people get back to important everyday activities.
Occupational therapists ask clients what occupations (activities) are important to them in their particular situation, identify why those activities are difficult and work together to find a solution. Solutions generally involve some combination of skill development, improving physical and emotional ability, adapting the environment or changing the way occupations are performed.
OT's have many "tools" in their tool box. For example, depending on one's needs, an occupational therapist may help someone by demonstrating ways to:
Over 1600 occupational therapists practice in Alberta. Occupational therapy is a regulated health profession in Alberta under the Health Professions Act. The most common work places include hospitals, homecare, schools and long-term care centers.
In addition to working directly with clients, occupational therapists work closely with others as part of an overall team - other health care professionals, teachers, industry, employers and many others.
Occupational therapy is a self-regulated profession. All therapists must be registered with the Alberta College Occupational Therapists (ACOT). ACOT is the regulatory body responsible to ensure the public receives competent, high quality occupational therapy. ACOT is owned by registered occupational therapists and ensures that standards of practice and a code of conduct are maintained, updated, and enforced as required. Complaints about an occupational therapist from a member of the public are subject to investigation by ACOT. Disciplinary action may follow if warranted.
OTWorks.com from Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists
Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT)
American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT)
Occupational therapy is practiced in many different places including hospitals, continuing care centers, schools, home care, rehabilitation centers, correctional facilities, and in the community.There are two primary ways to get involved in occupational therapy:
An OT is a health professional who is registered with the Alberta College of Occupational Therapists (ACOT). Learn more about what occupational therapists do or how to become an occupational therapist.
An OTA assist an OT in delivering occupational therapy. After an OT conducts an initial client assessment ongoing therapy may be facilitated by an OTA. OTAs work in out-patient departments, in-patient units in hospitals, schools, or in any other setting where OT's work. OTAs work under the supervision of an occupational therapist. Learn how to become an occupational therapy assistant.
Occupational therapists are university-trained rehabilitation professionals. To become an occupational therapist one must graduate from an approved occupational therapy program in Canada and in order to practice in Alberta you must be registered with the Alberta College of Occupational Therapists (ACOT), the regulatory body for occupational therapy in Alberta.
Currently you can enter the profession with a Bachelor's degree in occupational therapy; however, in 2010 you will require a Master's degree to enter the profession. Since 2008 all Canadian university programs offer a Master's degree in occupational therapy. Read more about becoming an occupational therapist here (link to CAOT).
The University of Alberta offers Masters, and Doctoral degrees.If you are interested in occupational therapy you could:
In Alberta there is no specific legislation that defines who can use the title of "Occupational Therapy Assistant". However, most employers in Alberta prefer that applicants have specific training. Learn more about occupational therapy assistant programs at: