An occupational therapist is a professional who works in the health care sector and helps individuals of all ages overcome challenges they may be facing in regard to their everyday lives with emphasis being placed on their overall wellbeing. They work with people who are experiencing difficulties that are mental, physical or social and that affect their ability to engage in activities that are both necessary and meaningful.
An occupational therapist will assess a clients individual needs and tailor a suitable treatment plan and provide interventions which both improve quality of life and promote independence. They can help clients recover from injuries and improve or manage certain conditions as well as teaching new skills, all of which enable life to be lived as fully and independently as possible.
Occupational therapists are employed in a variety of different settings such as hospitals, schools, residential establishments and community settings. The job is suitable for individuals who have a genuine desire to help others and want to make a positive difference. If you are patient, have empathy, excellent observation and communication skills and are good at problem solving then this could be the job for you. You will invariably be working as part of a team of like minded professionals such as nurses, doctors, psychologists and social workers to provide comprehensive care.
The role of an occupational therapist is a busy and varied role where no two days are the same. For example, one day you may be helping a client to enhance their ability to perform activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing and mobilising. You may then suggest specialised adaptations to improve independence. Another day, you may find yourself working with people who have sensory processing difficulties such as clients on the autistic spectrum. There are many different specialties in which you could work such as adult learning disabilities, children with special needs, trauma recovery, elderly clients or physical disabilities resulting from accidents.
To become an occupational therapist you usually require a degree which if full time, typically takes three years. Once you have obtained this, it will be necessary to register with the Health and Care Professions Council or HCPC for short. To gain entry onto the degree course, the requirements are usually two or three A levels and a minimum of five GCSEs, grades A-C which must include at least one science qualification. Once qualified, you can join the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and you will be well on your way to a very interesting and rewarding career.