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How do I Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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There are four items necessary to become an occupational therapy assistant: completion of post-secondary education, work experience, interpersonal skills, and problem solving skills. An occupational therapy assistant works under the supervision of an occupational therapist, directly with clients. They assist the therapist with the development of the plan and provide support as needed to ensure the client follows through.

Occupational therapy assistants find employment opportunities in rehabilitation hospitals, medical clinics, psychiatric centers, and government agencies. People who have a strong service orientation, are naturally outgoing, and are self-motivated find the greatest degree of satisfaction from this type of career. As many clients are house-bound, a driver's license is a great benefit and may be required by some employers.

The first step to become an occupational therapy assistant is to complete a post-secondary education program. These types of programs are available from a wide range of community and career colleges. The admission requirement for these programs typically includes high school credits in communication and math. An occupational therapy assistant program is usually one to two years in length.

Most programs to help you become an occupational therapy assistant have a cooperative or work term semester built into the program. The opportunity to apply classroom material to real situations is very important in this job. All job placements are under the supervision of an occupational therapist, who is responsible for providing a written assessment at the end of the term.

Interpersonal skills are critical when you become an occupational therapy assistant. Empathy, listening, communication, and motivation are all part of the support clients need from an occupational therapy assistant. Clients who need occupational therapy may have overcome a long illness, an accident, or mental illness. The support provided by the occupational therapy assistant is critical to their full recovery and return as a productive member of society.

Problem solving, conflict resolution, and people management skills are all necessary when you become an occupational therapy assistant. The information, resources, and techniques that are used are critical to the success of the treatment plan. Personal maturity is very important in this role. As a result, many programs require a personal interview or psychiatric evaluation before admission into the program.

Occupational therapy assistants can improve their career options though further education. Some of the courses already completed are transferable to the occupational therapist program, which is offered at the university level. Additional credit is often given based on work experience to help students apply their previous education and work to a related career.

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