Changing Settings as an Occupational Therapist: What Does the Journey Look Like?

Hello readers! I am Katerina Tsanaktsi, SPOT Europe’s Social Media Coordinator and Occupational Therapy student from Greece. This blog post is about the future and sending the message that is never too late to do what you want.

Choosing our path

It’s so strange how we should decide our occupation and our studies at a very young age and how this makes a mark on us. It’s not easy to know what you like so young and that’s why a lot of times people study one thing and end up doing something else. The story tells a true story of an occupational therapist who started his career as a pediatric occupational therapist with years of experience with children and a master’s degree in child psychology, but along the way chose to change direction and work with older adults. At first, he thought he wouldn’t make it and that there were better people than him already doing it, but that didn’t let him give up and he kept trying to make what he truly wanted happen.

“It wasn’t easy for me to see all these kids depending on me and all the anxiety of the parents about whether or not I was going to help them,” he stated in our first conversation showing me how much responsibility occupational therapy has as a profession. Universities in Greece in their way generally direct occupational therapists to work with children mostly. Although, Mr. G disagrees with this, and becomes an example so that young occupational therapists can choose correctly what they are interested in. 

Adapting to a new role

It is not easy to understand the value of occupational therapy in people’s daily lives. You teach someone to do it all over again but this time facing a problem. Particularly in Mr. G’s area most people are stroke survivors and are in an impoverished mental and physical state. Many times they don’t seek help because they are ashamed and the role of the occupational therapist is to help those people to understand that they are dealing with a situation that there should be no shame about and it is very understandable that this happens to many people. There is no way that the occupational therapist can replace the psychologist, instead, they should co-exist together for the strongest and best outcome.

Change and transformation

“Working with older people is not easy. They get angry easily, they take it out on the therapists, and they complain a lot, but it’s all because they are in pain and don’t know how to express themselves. They are tired people who need help and understanding. If I could suggest something to young people it would be to look for what it is they love. Don’t settle for mediocre things, look for the ideals for you, and strive for what makes you happy. Occupational therapy is a profession that above all else requires love for others, to do what you love and only then you will do it well.”

His words were quite helpful and I felt them in my heart, understanding that the most important thing is the choice this profession shows you to recognize which category suits you and work with it. It’s never too late to change your mind and switch to something new. A man who in his 30s decides to pursue a graduate degree different from his current field and at 35 starts working with a category of people unknown to him is an example to all.

I would like to thank mister G for talking to me about his life and also because he helped me realize that no matter what is happening to your life, it’s never too late to decide to do something new! You have to believe in yourself and start to think about what is best for you and your future! After all, occupational therapy is such a beautiful profession and its purpose is to help people, which you can do in many ways as long as you try and love this job.

Thank you so much for your time and if you like this one, you can also read my previous blog on the site about empathy in occupational therapy.

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