Day at Work: Occupational Therapist

My name is Lani Hessen and I’m an occupational therapist. If you think about what occupies your time as a human, occupational therapist
can work with any of those performance areas. Occupational therapy is really creative, uh
career. We want our children to be successful in all areas of, you know their occupations
and the occupations of a child are being a student and being a family member and being a peer and being you know someone who can play successfully. “This one is…?”
“Big square.” “Excellent! This one is big square and this
one is…?” “Small square.”
(gasps) “Oh my gosh! You got it!”
“Okay, so what are we looking at…” Children are much more easily engaged by playful
therapeutic options and I feel that working with kids you can really almost kind of trick
them into therapy because they just feel like they’re playing a game with you.
So we might take a child through an obstacle course to help with their motor planning. We, uh, would use different activities like climbing, um, swinging, jumping, to help with core strengthening. We also have lots of things that hang from our ceilings like trapezes that might use to help with children’s development of upper extremity and hand strengthening. Sometimes children have handwriting difficulties and they need help with, you know, learning how
to write, learning how to hold a pencil. “Okay, straight line down.” I have to document each session with a daily progress note and I write where the child
is in terms of their performance that day – how much help did that child need with
the different tasks I ask the child to do. So that we can keep track and kinda monitor how the child is progressing in terms of their treatment plan. I got my undergraduate degree
in kinesiology which is, uh, human movement studies. You need a masters degree to be able
to practice. I applied to graduate schools and choose a program that was, uh, two years
of academics and then six to nine months of internships after the academics. Even though
I am a pediatrics physical therapist, I worked in a hospital setting with adults as one of
my internships. If you want to pursue occupational therapy, really think about the sciences. Really think about honing your writing skills in high school. Make sure you stay really
active. Make sure you keep your own bodies really strong and really healthy. And, make
sure that your attitude is really positive, working with patients or clients in a clinic
setting, you have to come into the day with a very positive outlook. You have to leave all your own stuff at home. I love how active I’m able to be everyday, sitting down in a chair for me all day at a job would be really challenging. I love being up and active and
moving all day and I do at this job. I’m up walking around, helping kids. I love the kids that I work with and it’s a great career. Go for it!


  1. It appears that the video has the same narrator throughout. However, although she introduces herself as an occupational therapist, at 2:16 she says "I am a pediatric physical therapist." This seems misleading and I think it contributes to confusion about the differentiation between the two fields. I am glad to see more videos about OT but I think that it is crucial for us to not be lumped in with PTs who currently have much more public visibility. If we want our services to be understood by patients and medical professionals, we need to be clear about our unique role.

  2. Looks like an awesome job. Gonna do this. Was thinking about physical therapy but this seems alot better.

  3. I wish I could do this, but I'm an adrenaline junkie with a death wish. I need constant extreme stimulation to feel alive. When I'm working out, I have to push my heart to the verge of failure to get the rush. Otherwise, I'd love to help people but I'd fall asleep doing it.

  4. I'm just as confused as Sarah. While it is true OT and PT's objectives are similar, it is not okay to treat the professions as if they are one in the same. I don't think you should add a link to address this misinformation. I think you should edit the video or remove it.

  5. For more information about Occupational Therapists, please see:

    "Occupational therapists treat injured, ill, or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working." —Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor

  6. I've been struggling finding an outlet or job that suites my personality; so far OT and PT are the only careers I find suitable and would be fun to work in. Have a big decision ahead of me!

  7. This is what I want to do but can someone please tell me, is this job mostly working with children? I do not want to work with children as I currently have for the past few years and definitely sick of it. Can someone please tell me? thanks in advance.

  8. I'm a finance major and going into my last year, I'm learning that this field is very interesting and it would fit my esfp personality very well. if I decide to change careers later on, do I have to go through 4-5 years of schooling again or can I take pre-requisite courses and then apply to a master's program? I've taken intro to psychology and general chemistry 1 (I prefer physics lol), and I plan in taking 1-2 psychology courses my last semester to have those credits just in case

  9. can a special ed teacher make a career change to ot? if someone has an undergrad in education and Psychology? or does it have to be a science undergrad?

  10. what degree do you need to be an occupational Therapist? or How many years in college? does anyone know

Leave a Reply

(*) Required, Your email will not be published