Occupational Therapy OT

| 20 October 2023

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Nine Reasons Psychology Undergraduate Majors Should Consider a Career in Occupational Therapy

Nine Reasons Psychology Undergraduate Majors Should Consider a Career in Occupational Therapy-feature-usahs

You’ve earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. What’s next? 
An undergraduate degree in psychology is a versatile pursuit that may lead to multiple career options, including occupational therapy (OT). Psychology and OT are intertwined fields, and both are human services. 

A psychology degree is valuable to prospective occupational therapists due to its:

  • Foundation in understanding human behavior and mental health
  • Focus on holistic care
  • Emphasis on proficient counseling, communication and research skills
  • Empowerment to find individual satisfaction, professional advancement and a wide array of potential job opportunities

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) describes an occupational therapist (OT) as someone who works with individuals with disabilities, injuries, illnesses and other conditions that impede their ability to perform crucial daily activities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the largest employers of occupational therapists are the following:

  • Hospitals
  • Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists and audiologists
  • Schools
  • Home healthcare
  • Nursing care facilities

As occupational therapy focuses on improving the overall quality of life by treating a person’s physical, social and mental health, a psychology graduate will likely find personal and professional achievement in an OT role. OT practitioners leverage the communication, research and counseling skills developed during their psychology program.

If you’re looking for an innovative and fulfilling role, OT may be the right path for you. Ready to learn more? Discover nine reasons why psychology majors should consider a career in occupational therapy.

Nine Reasons Psychology Undergraduate Majors Should Consider a Career in Occupational Therapy-usahs

  1. An Understanding of Human Behavior and Mental Health

Psychology majors are educated to analyze human behavior and mental health. This skill set supports occupational therapists (OT) as they work with individuals with conditions that impact their ability to engage in daily activities. A background in psychology may provide essential insight into assessing and addressing these challenges.

Mental health is critical to helping people thrive in their everyday lives. According to AOTA, “The mental health and well-being of everyone is an important component of a healthy community. Occupational therapy can help clients, groups, and communities to manage physical and mental health needs, establish healthy and effective daily routines to promote well-being, and learn and utilize strategies to navigate the stresses of life.”

  1. Focus on Holistic Care

Occupational therapy embraces a holistic approach to healthcare, considering physical, psychological and social well-being. OTs assess patient physical needs, strengths and abilities, and social and mental health. Psychology majors often possess a deep appreciation for the interconnectedness of these aspects of healthcare, making them well-suited to the holistic nature of OT.

The study of human behavior, communication, cognition and mental health enhances a psychology graduate’s ability to provide comprehensive care.

  1. Exposure to Therapeutic Techniques

A psychology major’s foundation in therapy can champion patients to overcome mental health hurdles. Incorporating various counseling techniques can aid an OT in formulating strategies for managing daily activities and supporting patients in dealing with disabilities or addressing psychological issues.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), some of these methods may include:

  • Cognitive therapy
  • Humanistic therapy
  • Integrative or holistic therapy

While their approaches may vary based on patient needs, OTs help individuals deal with diverse issues and get back to leading a productive life.

Nine Reasons Psychology Undergraduate Majors Should Consider a Career in Occupational Therapy-usahs

  1. Integration of Research Skills

Psychology programs may emphasize research analysis, a central element of evidence-based practice in OT. The process is dynamic: An OT gathers data from multiple sources, interprets the information, collaborates with their patient and other healthcare practitioners, decides on a course of action, and evaluates its outcome.

AOTA advocates for evidence-based practice as an essential element of informed patient care. OTs critically investigate the latest research and apply it to their clinical practice.

  1. Prioritization of Communication Strategies

Effective communication is a key capability for many careers, including occupational therapy. Psychology majors often cultivate quality communication methods to establish trust and rapport with patients, deliver treatment plans and partner with fellow healthcare professionals.

Likewise, occupational therapist utilize active listening, nonverbal cues such as body language and questioning skills to help facilitate patient satisfaction and create a positive environment for growth and improved patient health.

  1. Commitment to Empathy and Compassion

OTs transform lives and communities. They are in the service of helping others live their lives more fully. Similarly, psychology majors are typically interested in the field because of their empathy and compassion for others. These attributes are advantageous in OT, where therapists work closely with individuals dealing with a variety of obstacles in order to enhance their overall quality of life.

OTs see patients who are often in a vulnerable state. Empathy creates connections, builds trust and respect and promotes positive patient outcomes. ScienceDirect attests that “highly attuned listening and communication skills are key components of occupational therapy practice as the basis for establishing a therapeutic rapport with patients and their families.”

OTs are changemakers – they empower patients to live more fulfilling lives in the everyday.

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  1. Exploration of Diverse Career Opportunities

The range of OT professional possibilities may align with a psychology graduate’s interests and career goals. Whether you’re looking for a travel OT position or a creative career path, OT is a dynamic and engaging career.

Depending on their role, OTs may work in a range of settings. Adding a specialty may allow OTs to demonstrate an area of expertise, enhance job credentials and open doors to new job possibilities.

BLS expects occupational therapy to grow 12% (much higher than the 3% average growth rate for all occupations) between 2022 and 2032. The projected growth will equal about 9,600 annual job openings for occupational therapists. While the availability of positions and hiring potential can vary depending on your specific circumstances, becoming an OT prepares you for ample job prospects.

  1. Path to Personal Fulfillment

Occupational therapy is a rewarding career with the potential for a high level of self-fulfillment. OTs help others regain independence and improve their quality of life. For individuals with a background in psychology, OT may appeal to their sense of purpose and desire to make a positive impact.

OTs can hone their skills in a creative and dynamic environment and enjoy career stability, flexible opportunities and creative problem-solving.

AOTA describes how “Occupational therapy practitioners work collaboratively with people in a manner that helps to foster hope, motivation, and empowerment, as well as system change.”

  1. Possibilities for Professional Development

Are you interested in a professional journey that combines the pursuit of your passion and the prospect of continuous growth? Occupational therapy may provide avenues for ongoing career advancement and specialization. Pursue a career in OT to tailor your career to your specific interests and area of expertise.

Some OTs move into management roles, while others open a private practice. Individuals with an MOT degree may go on to pursue a Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree (PPOTD) or earn a specialization to potentially advance their career.

Psychology is a promising path to occupational therapy as it provides fundamental insight into thoughts, behavior, emotions and motivations. The transition to OT can be seamless for psychology majors who wish to work in healthcare and promote overall well-being.

Are you eager to learn more about a career in occupational therapy? The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) offers Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT), Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) and Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (PPOTD) programs.

Explore our programs online or request more information on how you can further your passion for patient care.

The entry-level occupational therapy master’s degree program at the Dallas, Texas, campus has applied for accreditation and has been granted Candidacy Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its web address is www.acoteonline.org. The program must have a preaccreditation review, complete an on-site evaluation and be granted Accreditation Status before its graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

Students must complete 24 weeks of Level II fieldwork within 24 months following completion of the didactic portion of the program.


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