What is occupational therapy? This is a question I get asked daily by children, adults, other health care professionals, friends and family. Many people say, “you help people find jobs, I don’t need that”, which could be the case, but occupational therapists do much more. I truly believe that everyone could benefit from occupational therapy and that it can solve all of the world’s problems and by the end of this I hope you will think so as well. Occupational therapy has been a profession for over 100 years and figured out the secret sauce to help people in their daily lives many years ago. An occupational therapists’ definition of an occupation is much different than how the rest of the medical profession and world define it, which sets us apart exponentially.
I’ll let you in on the secret; an occupation is anything and everything as long as it is something that is meaningful to you. This means the definition differs for everyone, making treatment and intervention individualized based on what is meaningful to the client. Occupational therapists look at the whole person to try to improve their overall wellness and quality of life by getting them engaged in meaningful occupations. Occupational therapists are the only profession that look at the physical, social, and virtual environments, and the clients mental and physical wellness to improve their health outcome. I believe that my education allows me to look at things in a different way; I like to say, ‘I see things through an OT lens’ and that OT lens allows me to do my job at Clubhouse in the Jewish Community Center in a very unique way.
I look at all of the children and their actions in a unique way. Each child has different occupations that are meaningful to them, each child flourishes in different environments, and each child requires a different approach. My OT lens allows me to see those differences and my education has given me the tools I need to be a successful and caring counselor at the Jewish Community Center. Children are amazing, complex, and extremely unique and I believe that all children, regardless of their life circumstances, can be successful as long as they are allowed to engage in activities that are meaningful and important to them. Clubhouse is an amazing after school program that provides children with opportunities to find what they are passionate about and allows them to engage in meaningful occupations. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given at Clubhouse, because caring for others is a meaningful occupation for me and working at Clubhouse gives my life balance and meaning. All in all, occupational therapists are client-centered, making them uniquely qualified to help any person find balance and meaning.
Doctor of Occupational Therapy Student
University of Pittsburgh | Class of 2021
Courtney is an employee of the Jewish Community Center in works in the Clubhouse Afterschool program.