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Is the Job of Occupational Therapy Considered Stressful?

Occupational Therapy involves the utilization of key daily life activities to help patients participate in these functions, regardless of their emotional and physical impairment. It is a method of therapy that helps patients achieve independence, even though their physical or mental functions may be limited. Therapeutic techniques help improve cognitive abilities and motor skills in order to improve one’s overall well-being and quality of life.

According to Canada’s Occupational Therapy Resource Site, www.otworks.ca, “Occupational therapists consider occupation to be everything people do to occupy themselves, including looking after themselves (self-care), enjoying life (leisure), and contributing to the social and economic fabric of their communities (work/productivity).”
Occupational therapy helps patients with such conditions as physical injuries, head injuries, amputations, mental health and developmental disorders, congenital disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, orthopedic injuries, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and post traumatic stress disorders. An occupational therapist can also help children with such conditions as developmental delays, physical disabilities, and sensory and attention dysfunctions.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, stress is defined as “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.” One type of stress is job stress. Symptoms of job stress include: job dissatisfaction, sleep disturbances, short temper, stomach ache, headaches, low morale, and more. The consequences of stress in the medical industry can include: reduced patient care, increase in staff turnover, discontented patients, and less time spent with patients.
Occupational Therapy is one career that can be can be stressful. According to Chris Lloyd from the University of Queensland, Australia in his article “Work-related stress and occupational therapy”, some causes of stress and burnout are: “the caring nature of their work, repeated exposure to distress, repeated exposure to difficult behavior, prolonged interventions, and uncertain outcomes.”

There are many resources to help one reduce stress and prevent job burnout. Many experts recommend avoiding isolating oneself from friends, coworkers, and family, make sure that you do not take on too many problems, take care of your physical health, and maintain a sense of humor.
Occupational therapists are regulated in all 50 States and work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, mental health facilities, private practices, children’s clinics, and nursing homes.
According to the United States Department of labor, “Employment of occupational therapists is expected to increase 23 percent between 2006 and 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations.” A major factor for employment growth is an increasing elderly population and increased need for children’s care. There are also an increased number of individuals with disabilities or limited function who require therapy services. An aging baby-boom generation also increases the number of incidents of heart attacks and strokes which can require the services of Occupational Therapists.
Occupational therapy is a highly valued and respected medical career. Occupational therapists help patients overcome obstacles that prevent them from participating in daily life activities. Understanding and identifying the stressors that may be involved with a career in Occupational therapy will play a big part in implementing the best stress management techniques.

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