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Occupational Therapy License Requirements by State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Occupational Therapy License
The Occupational Therapist is a specialist who works with clients who have a physical or mental disability or who have suffered an injury that prevents them from being able to perform their job. The Occupational Therapist uses a variety of techniques and modalities to create specially tailored interventions designed to help the client create adaptive responses to help them overcome their limitations. These interventions usually incorporate day to day activities of clients who then are able to perform tasks that increase the client’s sense of self-sufficiency. Through this adaptive empowerment model, the Occupational Therapist works with the client to increase abilities in a manner that helps them to become self-sufficient in daily living. Once this threshold is reached, the client can then be helped to develop strategies to expand their sphere of abilities to include employment. Another method employed by the Occupational Therapist is to help clients learn to use tools and technologies in order to overcome limitations faced in day to day activities or the work place.
The Occupational Therapist will require a number of inborn traits as well as professional skills in order to be as effective as possible. Some personal traits that are very helpful are active listening skills, compassion, empathy, ability to establish rapport and keen observational abilities. You will need to be able to have an excellent ability to accurately assess your client which requires top shelf communication skills in addition to having a deep and broad understanding of a variety of disabilities and their impacts in terms of physiology, psychology and neurophysiology. As long as one possess a strong desire to help other people, an excellent work ethic and empathy, the training one receives during your schooling will give you the skillset and knowledge base you need to succeed as an Occupational Therapist.
Here are some tasks that an Occupational Therapist might be expected to perform on a daily basis:
- Overseeing a staff of Occupational Therapy Assistants and Occupational Therapy Aides.
- Performing thorough assessments of clients including limitations, capabilities and best outcomes.
- Proper analysis and evaluation of the client’s environment including all aspects of home and work space to maximize the understanding of the client’s needs and potential interventions and technologies that can be used.
- Creating custom interventions and tasks that evoke an adaptive response by the client to achieve desired outcomes and the ability to transcend limitations.
- Understanding the client’s psychological makeup and developing coaching techniques tailored to help the client and their family and co-workers have the mental fortitude and team oriented framework to overcome the challenges of the interventions.
- Thoughtful use of adaptive technologies to help the client to perform day to day tasks and work related duties.
Always keeping the client’s needs, desires and well-being at the heart of all interventions and decisions that are employed.
Educational and Degree Requirements for Occupational Therapy
While different states will have varying requirements for licensure once consistent requirement of all states is that the Occupational Therapist must have a Master’s degree from a program that has been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). This in turn requires that you have earned a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy or a closely related degree with an emphasis on course work related to Anatomy and Physiology, Psychology and Neuroanatomy. As part of your Occupational Therapy Master’s degree program you will be required to complete field work components that involve working under the direct supervision of a licensed Occupational Therapist in a clinical setting. This will often fulfill the requirements of states for supervised experience. You will also need to pass a criminal background check and pass the OTR examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).
The Occupational Therapist provides a unique service to their clients by helping them to utilize technology and develop skills and adaptive behaviors that help them to overcome limitations to be able to function in a self-sufficient manner at home and in the work place. This is a hugely empowering career that can make a profound difference in the lives of those who the career touches. By giving the client back their own sense of ability to take control of their life and become their own people, the Occupational Therapist gives their client a unique gift of self-confidence and the ability to control their own destiny. This is a greatly liberating and life altering experience for those who have come into the care of an Occupational Therapist.
While the impact on society may seem subtle, the Occupational Therapist performs a very important service to society that greatly helps to increase the overall health, wellbeing and productivity of society. This occurs through the Occupational Therapist helping clients to become self-sufficient and able to free up latent talent and productivity within society both in terms of the individual but also in a ripple effect that impacts society in a variety of ways both large and small. People who once were unable to take care of themselves can eventually become self-sufficient and potentially even productive in terms of being able to contribute creatively or in the workplace. People who are freed from the psychologically draining effects of feeling they cannot take care of themselves are able to suddenly be capable of a dramatic amount of positive activity. This also frees up family members and others who had spent a great deal of time helping the client who can now turn their efforts towards other endeavors. This has a salutary effect on society as a whole.
Once you have decided on becoming an Occupational Therapist your next step will be to plan out your educational path. You will want to consider finding a good school to give you a background that is compatible with a Master of Occupational Therapy program. This could include a 2 year Associate’s degree as an Occupational Therapy Assistant from an Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) accredited program. Once you have your Associate’s degree you will want to supplement that with a Bachelor’s degree in a highly related field such as Psychology. After you have your Bachelor’s you will need to find a school that fits your needs in terms of finances and curriculum and of course you will need to find an ACOTE accredited Masters of Occupational Therapy program. After you have completed your Master’s program you will need to verify that you have met your state’s requirements to attain licensure. This will require some additional supervised work experience, training on special subjects in some states and the passing of the NBCOT OTR examination as well as a criminal background check. Once you have been granted your license you are ready to enter the professional field as a licensed Occupational Therapist.