About Occupational Therapy
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About Occupational Therapy

"Occupations are activities that bring meaning to the daily lives of individuals, families, communities, and populations and enable them to participate in society. All individuals have an innate need and right to engage in meaningful occupations throughout their lives. Participation in these occupations influences their development, health, and well-being across the lifespan. Thus, participation in meaningful occupations is a determinant of health and leads to adaptation.

Occupations occur within diverse social, physical, cultural, personal, temporal, and virtual contexts. The quality of occupational performance and the experience of each occupation are unique in each situation because of the dynamic relationship among factors intrinsic to the individual, the environment and contexts in which the occupation occurs, and the characteristics of the occupation.

The focus and outcome of occupational therapy are clients’ engagement in meaningful occupations that support their participation in life situations. Occupational therapy practitioners conceptualize occupations as both a means and an end in therapy. That is, there is therapeutic value in occupational engagement as a change agent, and engagement in occupations is also the ultimate goal of therapy.

Occupational therapy is based on the belief that occupations are fundamental to health promotion and wellness, remediation or restoration, health maintenance, disease and injury prevention, and compensation and adaptation. The use of occupation to promote individual, family, community, and population health is the core of occupational therapy practice, education, research, and advocacy."

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2017). Philosophical base of occupational therapy. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(Suppl. 2). 

Occupational Therapy practitioners believe that-

"Nondiscrimination exists when we accept and treat all people equally. In doing so, we avoid differentiating between people because of biases or prejudices. We value individuals and respect their culture, ethnicity, described in the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics and Ethics Standards (American Occupational Therapy Association [AOTA], 2010). Nondiscrimination is a necessary prerequisite for inclusion. Inclusion requires that we ensure not only that everyone is treated fairly and equitably but also that all individuals have the same opportunities to participate in the naturally occurring activities of society, such as attending social events, having access to public transportation, and participating in professional organizations. We also believe that when we do not discriminate against others and when we include all members of society in our daily lives, we reap the benefits of being with individuals who have different perspectives, opinions, and talents from our own.

We support nondiscrimination and inclusion throughout our profession. Our concerns are twofold—for the persons who receive occupational therapy services and for our professional colleagues. In professional practice, our evaluations and interventions are designed to facilitate our clients’ engagement in occupations to support their health and participation in the various contexts and environments of their lives. Contexts and environments include, but are not limited to, individuals’ cultural, personal, temporal, virtual, physical, and social contexts as described in the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process (AOTA, 2014). As occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants, we assume a collaborative partnership with clients and their significant others to support the individual's right to self-direction.

 We believe that inclusion is achieved through the combined efforts of clients, their families, and significant others; health, education, and social services professionals; legislators; community members; and others.  We support all individuals and their significant others' rights to fully participate in making decisions that concern their daily occupations: activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, rest and sleep, work, education, play, leisure, and social participation.

AOTA and its members [as well as POTA and its members], recognize the legal mandates concerning nondiscriminatory practices.  However, the concept of nondiscrimination is not limited to that which is dictated by law.  This professional association, through its members, boards, commissions, committees, officers, and staff, supports the belief that all members of the occupational therapy professional community are entitled to maximum opportunities to develop and use their abilities.  These individuals also have the right to achieve productive and satisfying professional personal lives.

We are committed to nondiscrimination and inclusion as an affirmation of our belief that the interests of all members of the profession are best served when the inherent worth of every individual is recognized and valued.  We maintain that society has an obligation to provide the reasonable accommodations necessary to allow individuals access to social, educational, recreational, and vocational opportunities.  By embracing the concepts of nondiscrimination and inclusion, we will all benefit from the opportunities afforded in a diverse society."

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2014). Occupational Therapy's Commitment to Nondiscrimination and Inclusion. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(Suppl. 3).

Where can I find Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapists work with people throughout the age span who experience
difficulty in daily living activities or who may be at risk for these challenges.
Learn more about the many different settings
where you can find occupational therapy services.

The American Occupational Therapy Association is a key resource for consumers looking
for more information
 about occupational therapy, or for occupational therapy
professionals searching for information
 to guide their practice.

Occupational Therapy positions 

Visit our Career Center to see current employment opportunities for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants in Pennsylvania.

Becoming an occupational therapy practitioner

Currently, occupational therapy practitioners are prepared at the associates and bachelor's degree levels (occupational therapy assistants) or at the master's and doctoral levels (occupational therapists). See more information from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE®).

Entry-Level Occupational Therapy Education in Pennsylvania 



OT Centralized Application Service (OTCAS)
online application service to apply to participating
occupational therapy education programs.

Where can I observe an OT in action?

If you are looking for an occupational therapy practitioner to observe as part of your volunteer hours, contact local hospitals, assisted living agencies and school districts in your community and ask about opportunities to shadow an occupational therapy practitioner during their work. The Hand Therapy Certification Commission provides a searchable database of therapists who are certified to treat persons with hand injuries. Read through the list to identify occupational therapy practitioners in your community who are certified hand therapists. 

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Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association | 600 West Germantown Pike, Suite 400 | Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462 | office@pota.org