OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY

A form of supportive therapy consisting of activities involving skill, such as weaving or typing.The primary purpose of occupational therapy is to further the recovery of mental patients through activities that keep them interested and alert, increase their self-confidence, promote their social relationships, and give them a sense of accomplishment. Its importance lies in the fact that most institutional patients tend to feel lonely, rejected, isolated, inadequate, and deeply self-concemed. Working with their hands keeps them from lapsing into inertia, focuses their attention outside themselves, brings them into contact with others, and gives them an opportunity to re-establish their self-esteem by producing something of worth.Since mental patients are extremely varied in background and interests, the occupational therapist must be prepared to offer a wide range of activities. Among them are sketching, weaving, clay modeling, woodworking, painting, needlework, ceramics, leatherwork, indoor or outdoor gardening, and sculpting. In a modem therapeutic center these activities are not approached from the “busywork” viewpoint; the emphasis is rather on self-expression, the development of skill, and the achievement of personal satisfaction. In many cases volunteers are called in to teach their own specialties, and at the same time to bring patients into closer contact with the community beyond the hospital. Some of the activities, such as typing, stenography, or the operation of power tools and business machines are directly oriented toward a vocation, and therefore have the added value of preparing the patient for the future. This is sometimes termed industrial therapy.Effective occupational therapy is not a haphazard affair. It involves careful planning for each individual patient. The psychiatrist usually makes recommendations concerning the patient’s needs. The occupational therapist then explores his interests and skills, and together they plan activities which will be congenial and at the same time fulfill the therapeutic objectives set by the physician. If these activities are used as preparation for an actual vocation, the occupational therapist usually works closely with the vocational counselor in planning the program.An occupational therapist must possess a variety of manual skills and the ability to impart them to others.Just as important is an active imagination, an outgoing attitude, and a genuine desire to help mentally disturbed people regain their health and independence. The educational requirements, as established by the American Medical Association and the American Occupational Therapy Association, include four years at a college or university offering a curriculum in occupational therapy, leading to the degree of B.S. or B.A. in occupational therapy, followed by nine months of clinical experience. College graduates who have received their undergraduate degree in another field may take an eighteen- month advanced course on both academic and clinical aspects of the subject. The American Occupational Therapy Association conducts a national registration examination, and successful candidates are entitled to use the initials O.T.R. (Occupational Therapy, Registered) after their name. In the past most of the therapists were women, but in recent years there has been a steady increase in the number of men in the field.

Cite this page: Nugent, Pam M.S., "OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/occupational-therapy/ (accessed January 20, 2019).
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