Occupational Therapist Assistant

What is occupational therapy?

The American Occupational Therapy Organization (AOTA) states that occupational therapy as a profession involves “helping people across the lifespan participate in the activities they both want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations)”. And while we often equate the word “occupation” with “job,” an occupational therapy professional sees their clients’ occupations as the basic functions they need to perform in order to live the lives they want to live. So, for working adults, an occupation may truly be a job.  A child’s occupation is learning and developing, an older adult’s occupation is living independently. Occupational therapy professionals identify the specific tasks that each client needs to be capable of performing in order to live his or her life as fully and independently as possible, and then work to eliminate any barriers to their clients’ success.

What is an occupational therapy assistant?

An occupational therapy assistant, or OTA, is a health care professional that delivers treatment under the direction of an occupational therapist. An occupational therapy assistant

What is the working relationship between occupational therapy assistants and occupational therapists?

Occupational therapy assistant programs are usually offered at the associate’s level and prepare graduates to assist supervising occupational therapists in delivering recuperative and rehabilitative therapeutic services to patients or clients. An occupational therapist (OT) completes a master’s program in most states and takes responsibility for the full spectrum of care a patient might need. An OTA and an OT have a close professional relationship in which they work collaboratively to help facilitate their clients’ occupational independence.

While the occupational therapist assumes responsibility for evaluations, assessments, changes in treatment plans and conclusions of care, an occupational therapy assistant can deliver nearly all the treatment, care, and therapy determined appropriate by the attending OT. While an OTA is not allowed to make changes to a treatment plan or complete evaluations, they are indispensable when it comes to actually administering and facilitating therapy.

The professional skills of occupational therapy assistants, and their close working relationship with occupational therapists, are essential to effective therapy and successful outcomes. OTAs must work cohesively within a team and must always adhere to the treatment plan established by the OT specific to each patient or client they see. Additionally, an occupational therapy assistant cannot provide clinical supervision to other OTAs or occupational therapy aides.

What does an occupational therapist assistant who works with adults do?

Occupational therapy assistant jobs may be found in rehabilitation units within hospitals that specialize in orthopedic conditions – where bones are mending– or within units that treat neurological problems, such as stroke or spinal cord injury.

General weakness and loss of function can be problematic for older adults who live through serious illnesses, such as pneumonia or infections, and retraining them to re-master their ability to function independently is also a responsibility taken on by occupational therapy professionals.

In outpatient clinics, OTAs may work as members of a team that treat injuries sustained on the job, or they may help those in need of additional therapy after being discharged from a hospital rehabilitation unit.

Occupational therapy is considered the rehabilitative field that is most knowledgeable with regard to managing injuries sustained to the hands, feet and upper body, so an OTA may work in environments with an OT who specializes in this delicate area.

In the mental health environment, occupational therapy assistants work as part of a team that treats impairment associated with an array of mental health diagnoses. An OTA in this environment will work to help these individuals learn the skills necessary to live successful, self-supporting lives within their communities. In the case of those who need the continued support of medical organizations, occupational therapy professionals help to integrate these individuals into activities that will enhance their quality of life and maximize successful socialization with those around them.

What does an occupational therapist assistant who works with children do?

OTA’s who work with children address the limitations that may accompany an illness or injury that prevents a child from developing normally or living the typical life of a youngster. OTA’s work in pediatric settings where they address the barriers to typical motor development, sensory management or cognitive development. These limitations are addressed through exercise, therapeutic techniques and environmental adaptation. An OTA may also be part of a team that customizes adaptive medical equipment, such as wheelchairs. Occupational therapy assistants may also work in a school setting with a team that helps children function within the classroom so as to allow them to receive a mainstream public school education. 

Occupational Therapist Assistant Schools

Refine School Matches
Hide filters

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            1 Program(s) Found
            Fortis Institute , Montgomery
            • Provides a 24/7 myCampusLink system that lets students access their records, e-mail, communicate with faculty, and more.
            • Designated a 2014 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
            • Educates with the mission to serve the needs of the local community and graduates by matching opportunities to skills.
            • Offers career education in nursing, dental, business, information technology, and more. 
            • Has 44 campus locations across 15 states, with online options as well.
            Show more [+]
            • Financial Aid
            4 Program(s) Found
            • 95% alumni satisfaction rate.
            • Currently holds more than 500 professional alliances, including 19 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
            • Courses are taught by expert faculty, with 86% of professors possessing a doctoral degree.
            • Offers credit for prior experience and learning, as well as scholarships, accelerated programs, and several other ways to help reduce tuition costs.
            • Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Offers training in various types of massage therapy, physical therapy/sports rehab, and personal fitness training & wellness.
            • Teaches in an environment that promotes learning and encourages empathetic and compassionate therapists.
            • Career service professionals work directly with students from the start of their program, and help them pursue employment in day spas, luxury hotels, cruise ships, and other locations.
            • Students can work in the SOCHI Massage Clinic to gain experience and build their career skills.
            • Financial aid representatives help students develop a personalized financial plan to finance their tuition.
            Show more [+]
            • Financial Aid
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
            • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
            • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Grand Canyon University - Where a Quality Education and Faith Coexist
            • Recognized as offering some of the best online education programs in the nation.
            • We support students through their academic and spiritual journey.
            • GCU offers the convenience of online, on-campus, or evening programs.
            • Talk to us today to learn more about financial aid and start dates!
            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits