A Historical Look at Occupational Therapy

Almost all occupational therapy programs include a course in the history of occupational therapy, giving students a chance to learn about how current occupational therapy approaches evolved, and who the most influential people in the field were. The history of occupational therapy dates back to 100 BCE when Greek physicians made attempts to heal patients with therapeutic baths and prescribed various types of exercises to patient. However, it wasn’t until the 18th century that occupational therapy as we know it today was actually adopted by practitioners. The health profession of occupational therapy can be traced to the early 1910s.


Overview of Occupational Therapy History

When you enroll in an occupational therapy degree program, one of the educational requirements may be to complete at least one history of occupational therapy course. This course will give you a chance to learn about influential medical professionals throughout history, and will also touch upon key events and trends around the country that contributed to the growth of the profession.

When studying the history of occupational therapy, you'll get a chance to see how the profession evolved in Europe and then the United States. You'll learn about the founders' formal definition of this practice, and what they hoped to bring to the public and to the medical world as a profession. There is still a substantial lack of primary sources of information about the field of occupational therapy, so much of the information used to teach the history of occupational therapy is actually collected from hospitals, training institutions, government agencies and newspaper articles.

Taking a history of occupational therapy course can make it easier to understand the nature of this medical profession and learn about the full scope of this profession. The field of occupational therapy is linked to a number of other healthcare fields, including nursing, psychiatry, orthopedics and rehabilitation. You'll learn how different therapists used some of today's occupational therapy practices to treat patients with various ailments, and also review the timeline of growth of this profession or field.

Studying the History of Occupational Therapy

Most students can enroll in the history of occupational therapy course during their undergraduate studies but may be able to take an advanced course on this topic as an elective when completing a master's level degree program or advanced certificate course. Taking a single course on this subject can give students a fresh perspective on the different branches of occupational therapy and how this type of therapy has helped health professionals work with individuals to improve physical, emotional, psychological and cognitive skills.

A history of occupational therapy course may also include the legislation that has allowed occupational therapists to provide services for various groups, and may also cover the growth and development of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

In the United States, all individuals need at least a master's degree or higher in order to become a certified occupational therapist. Taking a history of occupational therapy course early in their educational career can help students prepare for an advanced degree and make it easier to perform more in-depth courses at a later date.