UPDATED AUGUST 28, 2020
Welcome to part six of a six-part blog series that dives into the world of occupational therapy careers and those who work directly with individuals affected by various challenges: the occupational therapy assistant!
Part 1: Occupational Therapy Careers: Working with Children and Youth
Part 2: Occupational Therapy Careers: Improving Health & Wellness as an OTA
Part 3: Occupational Therapy Careers: The OTA Role in Work and Industry
Part 4: Occupational Therapy Careers: OTAs Help With Rehabilitation
Part 5: Occupational Therapy Careers: Occupational Therapy Assistants Ensure Quality of Life
In Part 6 of this blog series, the topic is exploring occupational therapy’s role in mental health, and how the knowledge and instincts of those in an occupational therapy assistant career provide mental health treatment and prevention services.
OT Focuses on the Whole Person
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) lists six practice areas within occupational therapy: children and youth, health and wellness, mental health, productive aging, rehabilitation and disability, and work and industry.
If you’ve been reading this blog series, you’re not at all surprised by this wide application of OTA knowledge. The primary difference between occupational therapy and other professions is the use of occupations (activities and skills) in the evaluation and treatment. Both an Occupational Therapist (OT) and an occupational therapy assistant (OTA) help people of all ages meet the challenges of emotional, developmental, and mental difficulties.
Occupational therapy practitioners consider environment (context) and current and future abilities needed for desired tasks. OTAs help people of all ages meet the challenges of emotional, developmental, and mental difficulties. They often work with specialists in other fields to coordinate care.
Remember, while occupational therapists (OTs) take the lead in developing a treatment plan, it’s OTAs who work directly with the individuals to carry out the plan. OTA expertise allows them to recommend changes when needed for continued progress. (Go here for more about how the roles of Occupational Therapists and OTAs differ.)
Working Toward Improved Mental Health
Occupational therapy practitioners are active participants in the mental health of a community. You’ll find OTAs working with individuals in homeless and battered-women shelters, correctional facilities, group homes, workplaces, schools, and in coordination with community-based programs.
OTAs and others in occupational therapy careers work toward improving mental health in a variety of ways. Some examples:
Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career Fit Me?
Deciding to pursue an occupational therapy assistant career as an OTA is a very personal choice. OTAs love what they do because they like seeing the difference they make in people’s lives.
It’s also reassuring to know the outlook for occupational therapy careers is good, too. The Bureau of Labor Statistics sees OTA job growth increasing more than 30% from 2018 to 2028. Experienced OTAs earn more than $61,000 a year, and a first-year salary is typically over $45,000 (plus benefits).
Occupational Therapy Careers at CUKC
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, health-care focused university located in Overland Park, Kansas. CUKC serves students seeking careers in the chiropractic and health sciences.
When you’re ready to begin an occupational therapy assistant career, discover the CUKC Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistantdegree program. OTA courses are delivered in sequential 8-week modules year-round, allowing students to complete the degree in two years. The degree program includes the four-to-five months of required fieldwork experience.
Other features of the OTA program:
Connect with an advisor today to learn about the two-year OTA degree, or explore the occupational therapy assistant career by downloading the free CUKC ebook today: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.