Anyone who has worked closely with me knows that I'm a bit of a fangirl when it comes to occupational therapists. I have worked with and managed OTs that could make something therapeutic out of a cardboard box. However, my awe, if you will, actually started with "that one OT". One of my children struggled with hyperactivity when younger and we Googled how to help and came across a good amount of strategies--weighted blankets, cushions on his chair, etc. Unfortunately, those strategies did nothing in the school-based environment. Luckily, we had received an OT consult for an evaluation and, although, he ended up not qualifying, that brief conversation with an OT changed his multidisciplinary team's perspective and overall approach to assisting him. We actually learned that his needs were vestibular in nature and no amount of weighted objects would ever resolve that. She educated us on vestibular needs and showed us some tips. I still remember that Occupational Therapist and how much she helped me and his educators at a time when we all felt pretty helpful.
Now, let's look at the story from the OT's perspective--well, we can't because she moved and I couldn't find her on Facebook (embarrassingly, I tried). I think it's safe to assume that to that OT it was another day. When I think of my experiences as an ST--there are those unbelievably moving experiences that make me so proud of myself as a therapist--the child that first speaks using a device, the man that gets regular consistency milk in his cereal for the first time in five years, the baby that waves for the first time, etc. A therapist walks away from these moments in their work days with no doubt that a life changing impact was made. As therapists, we know, though, that our caseload primarily consists of life changing moments but that are in smaller scale and don't leave that immediate "I just changed someone's life feeling". Other job stressors like productivity, reimbursement laws, high caseloads can mask the feeling that comes from changing someone's life--especially if those changes come in smaller ways.
I am here to tell you that to that OT--that was likely a normal consult. That was an evaluation, no recommendation, some tips and on to the next thing. That OT likely didn't leave feeling like she just accomplished this ground breaking/move mountains therapeutic moment--that was likely monotony in her day.
To me as the patient, though, that was a moment I will never forget because it made my life as a parent easier. It gave me the skills needed to better support my child and to educate others on how to better support my child. Her likely monotonous advice was my forever tool. I put a lot of my passion for the field of occupational therapy on that moment--on her monotony.
It is easy at times to feel monotonous and undervalued. However, I am here to tell you that there is someone on your caseload, I guarantee it, that will always remember you for the services you're providing. You are the person that is going to equip them with tools, you are the person that is making an impact, you are the person navigating their deficits with them, you are their person--you are THAT therapist.