Occupational therapy is a form of therapy that helps people learn to function in their everyday lives by teaching them essential professional skills. Occupational therapy deals with individuals suffering from a debilitating psychological, motor, or emotional disorder, as well as with patients who lost a certain function due to an accident or an acute illness.
History of Occupational Therapy
There is evidence that as early as in the ancient Greece and Rome people employed concepts of occupational therapy to humanely treat patients. This type of practice, however, almost completely disappeared during the middle ages, while the 18th century Europe saw a reform of the mental health hospitals as superintendents stopped chaining and restraining the psychologically disturbed, but instead employed a combination of hard work and free time activities.
As far as the US goes, not until the early 20th century did the mental hospitals see any improvement in treating their patients. Nevertheless, the changes were still brought about with work therapy, just like in Europe. In addition, the occupation therapy was first utilized with individuals who were physically disabled in the 1910s, while its critics still viewed as meaningless.
In as little as 20 to 30 years, borrowing from a wide range of disciplines such as nursing, psychology, social work, and anthropology, occupational therapists managed to build credibility for their profession and convince the medical world of their worth. In particular, during the World War I, the individuals using occupational therapy were first forced to define standards and procedures of their work. By standardizing their training and curriculum, having decent work conditions and solid wages, occupational therapists managed to make their profession relevant and more captivating in the medical world by the end of the 1920s.
Philosophy and Values behind Occupational Therapy
The philosophy of early occupational therapy was primarily built on concepts such as humanitarianism, romanticism, and pragmatism. Later on, as the scope of the profession started to expand, the core values were based on the fact that it is fundamental for any human being to have an occupation, and that it is highly beneficial. In particular, the supporters of occupational therapy believe that every individual occupations vary in appeal, but at the same time they organize time, positively influence a person’s sense of self worth, and in many cases bring meaning to life. In the last century, occupational therapy has evolved from being a distraction from an illness, to simply being a form of treatment, to finally emerging as a means of empowerment to have an occupation. Occupational therapists strive to increase a person’s level of independence and operative abilities, and in turn improve on their quality of life.
Process of Occupational Therapy
The process of occupational therapy is relatively straightforward and it involves a referral of a patient by a primary health care provider to the occupational therapist. The next step is to collect all relevant and available information about the individual, and to perform an assessment of the condition, as well as of needs of the patient.
As in any other therapy, a clear goal will be set while also coming up with a plan of action as to how the goal will be attained. The therapy will then be performed for as long as it is considered beneficial, and periodic assessments of improvement will be carried out as well. The end result will be reviewed and measured, the patient then discharged from care, and a formal review will be written. It is essential that both the patient’s and the therapist’s strengths and resources are properly evaluated so that the time spent together can be most productive. Facts about Occupational Therapy
In 1917, the American Association of Occupational Therapy was first created, around the same time when the reforms of the mental health care in the US were taking place, as it was shown that rather than keeping mentally incapacitated individuals physically constrained it was far more beneficial to engage them in meaningful or occupational work.
In addition, the AOTA is constantly organizing campaigns to raise awareness, improve on the existing resources, as well as on educational and scientific methods that contribute to further development of the profession. Today, the interest of engaging in occupational therapy as a profession is on the rise, which is aided by over 300 educational institutions that provide occupational therapy training in the US.
An occupational therapist must have at least a Master’ Degree, and they work in various institutions including schools, mental health clinics, rehabilitation centers, and so on. There is a vast range of conditions, both mentally and physically debilitating to an individual, which can be helped with through occupational therapy. Some of the more psychological include autism, ADHD, depression and anxiety, learning disabilities, schizophrenia, and so on. Other more physical disabilities include amputation, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, and the like.