Top 3 Occupational Therapy Myths


Occupational therapists often have to explain their careers to friends and family members. A simple summary is often not enough; it’s common for an OT to hear someone jokingly state she works a “fake job.” The confusion revolving around the daily tasks of an occupational therapist have led to common misconceptions, and many in the field can’t seem to shake off some persistent myths. The three following myths are those you are most likely to hear when studying or working as an occupational therapist.

Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy are the Same

This myth is an understandable mistake, but easy to counter. Physical therapists are those who help people with issues revolving around mobility and strength. For example, a stroke victim may have trouble using the side of her body most affected by the event. Once she can move those muscles, it is the job of the occupational therapist to help with coordination, balance, flexibility, and complex motor movements. A more accurate description is that physical therapists and occupational therapists make up two halves of one whole.

Occupational Therapists Only Work With the Elderly

Elderly patients are certainly a part of your client base, but is it unlikely that you only work with them. As an occupational therapist, your daily tasks include helping many types of people accomplish their recovery goals – often simple ones related to everyday life – like learning how to write, adjusting to new surroundings, or even just picking up a glass of water. People who may have trouble adapting to situations like these are not restricted to one age group. You could be helping a child one day, and a young adult the next.

Occupational Therapy is Repetitive

Occupational therapy means getting involved with a wide variety of patients and environments. You are not wedded to any hospital or clinical setting, and every patient will have unique needs, personalities, and goals. The job of the occupational therapist is not just “fixing” a patient; it is motivating them towards recovery. You can find yourself thinking of new, innovative ideas to help a client get back on their feet. An occupational therapist fulfilling her duty is one who learns something new about herself with each patient.

Although you can make the most detailed arguments for your job when speaking to family members, it is likely that they still won’t understand your passion. As far as your patients are concerned, it doesn’t really matter what anyone believes so long as it does not affect their recovery. Occupational therapists are passionate about helping others. Ignore the myths, remember why you chose your profession, and find your next occupational therapy position at Ardor Health!