Occupational therapy, often abbreviated OT, is the "use of productive or creative activity in the treatment or rehabilitation of physically or emotionally disabled people" (American Heritage Dictionary).  A more technical definition is: the use of meaningful occupation to assist people who have difficulty in achieving a healthy and balanced lifestyle and to enable an inclusive society so that all people can participate to their potential in daily occupations of life.  Occupational therapists work with a variety of individuals who have difficulty accessing or performing meaningful occupations.
Most commonly, occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants work with people with disabilities to enable them to maximize their skills and abilities. Occupational therapy gives people the "skills for the job of living" necessary for "living life to its fullest. "
Services typically include:
The early use of occupation to support, treat and rehabilitate people in Aotearoa New Zealand is evident in services for returned soldiers after World War 1 ((Hobcroft 1949)). There are glimpses in mental health services during the 1930's too (Skilton 1981). However the first qualified occupational therapist, Margaret Buchanan, arrived in New Zealand in 1941 (Buchanan 1941). Initially employed in the then Auckland Mental Hospital she was rapidly involved not only in the development of occupational therapy services there, but also the development of the first training programmes and advice to government. Initially those trained had previous health or education backgrounds (Skilton 1981). A formal two-year training programme was established by 1940 (NZNJ 1940), and state registration provided for in the Occupational Therapy Act 1949 with the New Zealand Occupational Therapy Registration Board 1950 but since replaced by the Occupational Therapy Board of NZ through the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003. From its early services in mental health and returned serviceman settings occupational therapy expanded into general rehabilitation, work with children with disabilities and services for the elderly (Wilson 2004, p. 88).
Educational programmes moved from the health sector to the education sector in 1971 (New Zealand Occupational Therapy Registration Board 1970b 17th July). OT career training is now provided by the Schools of Occupational Therapy at the Auckland University of Technology and Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin. An advanced diploma in occupational therapy was first made available in 1989 (Packer 1991) and bachelor programmes have been available since the 1990's. However, it was not until a review of the Education Act that it was possible for masters degree programmes to be made available, as they now are through both schools . The first New Zealand occupational therapist to complete a PhD in the country in a programme related to occupational therapy was Linda Robertson who completed her PhD in 1994 (NZJOT 1996). "PhD" redirects here for other uses see PhD (disambiguation. The development of distance education technology has enabled large numbers of therapists to participate in post-graduate distance education.
An association for practitioners was formed in 1948 (New Zealand Registered Occupational Therapists Association 1949) and since renamed as the New Zealand Association of Occupational Therapists (Inc) or NZAOT. The NZAOT provides a bi-annual conference, representation at government levels, a journal and a monthly newsletter.
Occupational therapy began as a profession in the United States in 1917 with the founding of the Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy (now, The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. ). The creation of the society was impelled by a belief in the curative properties of human occupation (or everyday purposeful activity). It had previously been employed as part of the moral treatment movement in the large state-supported institutions for mental illness that were widespread in the United States. Occupational therapy has played a prominent role in epidemics, providing treatment for patients with tuberculosis, polio, and HIV/AIDS. In 1975, following the enactment of legislation known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142), thousands of occupational therapists were employed by public schools to provide therapeutic services (known as related services) to enable children with disabilities to participate in regular school settings. The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (sometimes referred to using the acronyms EAHCA or EHA or Public Law (PL 94-142 was enacted by the United States Congress in Originally, therapists from approved training programs were certified, or registered by the American Occupational Therapy Association. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA is the national professional association established in 1917 to represent the interests and concerns of Occupational therapy A baccalaureate degree was required for certification beginning in the 1940s. Fifty years later, accredited programs were required to be at the Master's degree level. The 1990s saw the evolution of doctoral programs in occupational therapy. Educational programs in occupational therapy are now accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, and national certification is granted under the auspices of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. More recently, a new discipline within occupational therapy has opened up known as occupational science. Occupational science is an interdisciplinary field in the social and behavioral sciences dedicated to the study of humans as occupational beings Many students in 5-year masters program now receive their undergraduate degree in this discipline and go on to receive a Masters degree in occupational therapy during their 5th year.
Occupational therapy practitioners are skilled professionals whose education includes the study of human growth and development with specific emphasis on the physical, emotional, psychological, sociocultural, cognitive and environmental components of illness and injury. Cognition is a concept used in different ways by different disciplines but is generally accepted to mean the process of awareness or thought
Most registered occupational therapists (OTR) practicing in the field today possess a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy. An occupational therapist (OT is a health professional who is trained in the practice of Occupational therapy. However, by 2007, all OTRs will enter the field with a Masters (M. A. , M. S. , or MOT) or a professional Doctoral degree (OTD). A certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) generally earns an associate degree.
To become eligible for the national examination for certification, students must complete a minimum of two (three maximum) supervised clinical internships in physical disabilities, pediatrics or mental health. Many college programs encourage students to pursue a third internship in an area of OT of their choosing. Upon successful completion of at least two internships, graduates must pass a national examination (NBCOT or National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy). Most U. S. states also regulate occupational therapy practice (OTs must possess a license within their state).
The philosophy of occupational therapy has evolved over the history of the profession. Philosophy is the study of general problems concerning matters such as existence knowledge truth beauty justice validity mind and language The philosophy articulated by the founders owed much to the ideals of romanticism  , pragmatism  and humanism which are collectively considered the fundamental ideologies of the past century   . Romanticism is a complex artistic literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Western Europe, and gained strength during the Pragmatism generally considered to have originated in the late nineteenth century with Charles Peirce, who first stated the Pragmatic maxim. Humanism is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appealing to universal
William Rush Dunton, the creator of the National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy, now the American Occupational Therapy Association, sought to promote the ideas that occupation is a basic human need, and that occupation was therapeutic. From his statements, came some of the basic assumptions of occupational therapy, which include:
These have been elaborated over time to form the values which underpin the Codes of Ethics issued by each national association. However, the relevance of occupation to health and well-being remains the central theme. Influenced by criticism from medicine and the multitude of physical disabilities resulting from World War Two, occupational therapy adopted a more reductionistic philosophy for a time. World War II, or the Second World War, (often abbreviated WWII) was a global military conflict which involved a majority of the world's nations, including Reductionism can either mean (a an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts or to simpler or more fundamental things While this approach lead to developments in technical knowledge about occupational performance, clinicians became increasingly disillusioned and re-considered these beliefs  . As a result, client centeredness and occupation are re-emerging as dominant themes in the profession, perhaps indicating growing maturity and self confidence   . Over the past century, the underlying philosophy of occupational therapy has evolved from being a diversion from illness, to treatment, to enablement through meaningful occupation .
The two most commonly mentioned values are that occupation is essential for health and the concept of holism. Distinguish from the suffix -holism, which describes addictions However, there have been some dissenting voices. Mocellin in particular advocated abandoning the notion of health through occupation as obsolete in the modern world and questioned the appropriateness of advocating holism when practice rarely supports it   . The values formulated by the American Association of Occupational Therapists have also been critiqued as being therapist centred and not reflecting the modern reality of multicultural practice  .
A wide variety of people may benefit from occupational therapy, these may include people with:
palliative care, people with end stage health issues
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Occupational therapists may work in many settings, such as:
Community based practice means moving away from hospitals and rehabilitation clinics and working with atypical populations such as the homeless or at-risk populations.
Examples of community-based practice settings:
Buchanan, M. (1941). "letter " Journal of Occupational Therapy 3(2): 12.
Hobcroft, N. (1949). "Life in the Occupational Therapy Department at Porirua. " New Zealand Occupational therapy Newsletter Number Two. (May).
New Zealand Occupational Therapy Registration Board (1950). "Minutes of the New Zealand Occupational Therapy Registration Board. " 20th June.
New Zealand Occupational Therapy Registration Board (1970b 17th July). "Minutes of the New Zealand Occupational Therapy Registration Board. "
New Zealand Registered Occupational Therapists Association (1949). "AGM Minutes. "
NZJOT (1996). New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy 47(1): 19.
NZNJ (1940). "Editorial " New Zealand Nursing Journal 33(11): 346.
Packer, T. , & Stickney, Jan (1991). "Advanced Diploma in Occupational Therapy: A comparison of therapists before and after. " Journal of New Zealand Association of Occupational Therapists Inc. 42(1): 3-7.
Skilton, H. (1981). Work for your life - the story of the beginning and early years of occupational therapy in New Zealand. Hamilton, Hudlo Printers.
Wilson, L. H. (2004). Role differentiation in a professionalising occupation: the case of occupational therapy, New Zealand Department of Management Dunedin University of Otago PhD.