We've all been there, that uncomfortable social situation where you know noone. "so what do you do?" someone asks. I, as always, pause for a moment. How do I answer? Knowing that this is about to become a VERY short or a VERY long conversation. "I'm an occupational therapist." I say. I wait... Do I spew my guts in a lengthy explanation of what it actually is I do all day, or do I smile and nod as this person I don't know inevitably says: "oh how nice, you play with kids all day."
And so, most often I choose the path of least resistance and say, "most occupational therapists (careful to use the full name to prevent even more questioning) do in fact WORK with kids, I however Treat adults. Am I fullfilled: definitely. Am I rich: definitely not." I work with those who have having difficulty doing life independently. I help them along the path of finding their independence again." WRONG ANSWER. And immediately it's clear... It's going to be a very long conversation...
"So what do you actually do?" asks the person I don't know.
Every OT I know has been here. And when you choose to specialize in some obscure way, the task becomes even more difficult. So what then is an occupational therapist.
We are the guys you don't know you need. The frazzled looking woman who runs in and out of your treatment session with a bag of toys and games and asks you to do stuff kids enjoy. The one you realise you couldn't have done it without when the journey is near its end. We are seldom understood by our colleagues, barely ever recognized by your medical aid and seen as secondary to the rest by those in higher places. We are the ones who believe in meaning before all else, because if your life has no meaning - what's the point right? We use strange techniques and unconditional methods to empower, and we advocate for you to become the best version of you... EVERY SINGLE TIME.
It's usually at this point that the person I don't know makes some excuse to leave the table. But that's OK, because I'm an OT and proud to be one. I know that my job makes a difference to lives, and that makes the other sh*#t worth it... EVERY SINGLE TIME.