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The Role of Empathy in Occupational Therapy

Posted by Brian Spence on Jun 7, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Empathy, Emotional Intelligence, Allied Health, Occupational TherapyThose interested in pursuing training in occupational therapy obviously have a strong desire to learn and understand how various parts of the human body work, both independently and as a whole. While the actual mechanics of how the body functions is extremely fascinating in and of itself, there is another aspect of occupational therapy that is as important -- perhaps even more important in some circumstances.

Successful occupational therapy treatment also incorporates effective methods to treat the psychological effects that invariably occur after a devastating accident or illness because ultimately personal injury is just that -- personal.

Why Empathy?

Most people, even occupational and physical therapists on occasion, take for granted the countless actions a healthy human body engages in on a daily basis. Grasping objects, pushing oneself out of a chair, opening a jar, taking care of personal hygiene -- are all forms of activity easily within the ability of those with a healthy body.

For patients requiring occupational therapy, their abilities may have been severely diminished after incurring their injury. Previous activities such as brushing their teeth, lifting their arm, counting change, driving, taking care of family, may all be temporarily or in some cases, permanently lost to them. An injured person may be dealing with very real fears including wondering if they will ever be able to return to work, whether they will be able to take care of and participate in the lives of their children or spouse, along with financial concerns stemming from their medical treatment. In short, injured patients may be dealing with major life issues during their occupational therapy treatment plan.

The Role of Occupational Therapists

Anyone planning to enter the profession of occupational therapy must also be willing to understand the daily role that empathy will play in their interaction with patients. Therapists will likely deal with a wide range of cases including young children who may never reach their full physical potential -- to previously vigorously active adults whose lives changed dramatically after an injury or accident. A successful occupational therapist uses both their medical and psychological training to help them learn when to push a patient toward a goal, and when it's time to offer emotional support and encouragement to a struggling patient.

If you would like to know more about a rewarding career as an occupational therapist, please contact us! And if interested in learning more about this and related topics, visit the Healthcare and Self-Improvement sections of our blog.


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Staffing Plus is a premier healthcare staffing firm that provides temporary, per diem, temp-to-hire and permanent Staffing Solutions for Behavioral Health, Education, and Healthcare settings. We have leveraged decades of experience to assist organizations with the challenges of managing their HR and Recruiting needs.