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Occupational Therapy Overview


For more information on careers in this field, see the list on the right. For salary ranges, schooling requirements and more, check out the Career Explorer.

Occupational therapy is a science-driven, evidence-based profession that helps people of all ages to recover from injury, disability or illness and participate in activities of daily living. For example, they might help young children with disabilities participate fully in school or support older adults coping with physical or cognitive decline. 

Occupational therapy services typically include:

  • Customized treatment programs to improve the ability to perform daily activities
  • Comprehensive home and job site evaluations with adaptation recommendations
  • Performance skills assessments, treatment and evaluation
  • Adaptive equipment recommendations and usage training
  • Task and activity modification training
  • Guidance for family members and caregivers

Occupational therapy practitioners practice from a holistic perspective, and actively integrate the client and their family in the therapy treatment plan. They emphasize adapting the environment to the specific needs of the client.

Currently, a master’s degree is required to practice as an occupational therapist. Occupational therapy assistants must have an associate’s degree and are supervised by a licensed occupational therapist.

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Note: The American Occupational Therapy Association reviewed this overview.