Here are two things you likely didn’t know about the occupational therapy profession. 1. The origins of occupational therapy – focused on helping others live their lives to the fullest – originated in mental health. 2. Those who perform the day-to-day work of this people-centered profession are those who found their life’s work through a two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in occupational therapy assistant.
An Overview of the Occupational Therapy Profession
Rather than managing symptoms, occupational therapy calls for ways to encourage and support health and wellness activities within a client’s community.
One way to envision being an occupational therapy professional is to imagine making a difference in the lives of others in a variety of ways, all guided by the knowledge obtained while earning an occupational therapy assistant degree.
Many people mistakenly think occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) primarily perform therapies that get people back to work. Yes, that’s part of what students earning an occupational therapy assistant degree learn, but it misses the full scope of what OTAs do.
OTAs are on call to help those with developmental, emotional, mental, physical, or rehabilitative challenges achieve the life goals they want to reach.
In fact, there are six primary areas of occupational therapy: children and youth, health and wellness, productive aging, rehabilitation and disabilities, work and industry, and mental health. (For more details on the six areas, read this blog.)
As an OTA working in mental and emotional health, for example, you might
If these strategies sound like practical, effective ways to make a difference, well, that’s by design. Today’s recovery model for designing and delivering services for individuals with mental or emotional conditions recognizes that recovery is a long-term process.
To live as independently as possible and engage in meaningful activities, clients may require training in activities of daily living (ADLs), access to educational programs, guided experiential learning, and adaptations to the home environment. These are the roles OTAs perform in today’s healthcare environment.
The Need for OTAs is…Everywhere
After completing their occupational therapy assistant degree, OTAs desiring to focus on mental/emotional health will find a wide variety of employment settings, including
OTA students complete 24 credit hours of general education and prerequisite requirements. The 12 credit hours of “gen ed” classes typically include English composition/communications, algebra, and speech.
The OTA curriculum includes 12 credit hours of required classes, such as basic anatomy and physiology, general psychology, and health science terminology.
The remaining classes and labs focus on occupational therapy topics like performance analysis, issues in rehabilitation and disability, mental health, and healthcare management. Before graduation, occupational therapy assistant degree students participate in guided fieldwork experiences.
There, OTA students see how OTAs help their clients in real-world scenarios and then begin applying their skills under the guidance of trained OTA evaluators. (Learn more about Level I and Level II fieldwork here.)
A Helping Profession With an Exciting Future
Graduates with an occupational therapy assistant degree will find a work environment that recognizes their ability to help people go from saying, “Here’s what I want to do” to saying, “Now I can do what I want to do!”
OTA employment data:
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas. You can earn your Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant in as little as two years.
Our OTA courses are delivered in sequential 8-week modules year-round. Learning is accomplished through in-class sessions, group discussions, OTA guest speakers, experiences in our simulated living quarters lab.
Other features of the OTA program:
Explore the occupational therapy assistant profession with our admissions team. By clicking here, the team will respond, and you’ll receive our free eBook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.