April is National OT Month and Poetry Month


April: Not a month for fools! Pull a prank on the first, but the rest of the month is National Poetry Month and National OT Month.

Most of us know what poetry is, but what is OT? An occupational therapist myself, I can say a little something about that!

Let’s start with some spring cleaning and air out the room with what occupational therapy is NOT:

  • OT is not helping a person find a job and get back to work (though it could include that)
  • OT is not physical therapy (though it includes physical rehabilitation and exercise)
  • OT is not weaving baskets (though we started that way, helping injured Civil War soldiers find their usefulness again)
  • OT is not playing with children (though, if we are doing our job well, it feels like play to the child!)
  • OT is not making crafts in the psych ward (there is a method to their madness!)
  • OT is not a therapist prescribing activities you must do to get better (if it feels that way, we missed the mark)

Misconceptions aside, let’s focus on celebrating the awesomeness!

Occupational therapy IS a health profession that skillfully employs meaningful activities to create and support functional participation for people with challenging conditions. We work in hospitals, physical rehabilitation centers, homes, schools, daycare and mental health centers. We facilitate all facets of health with persons, families, companies, communities. . . even societies. As an occupational therapist, I freely, openly and unabashedly admit that I love occupational therapy!

To celebrate National Poetry and Occupational Therapy Month, I offer this, my poem about occupational therapy! As you will soon see, I am more OT than poet.


Occupational Therapy


An artful blend

of science

and simplicity,




Buoyed by heritage,

research, and college:

Intense preparation,

foundational knowledge~


There’s anatomy,


neurology, too.



technology, woo!

development and human ecology,

and a little pharmacology, who knew?


A touch of gerontology,

anthropology, yes.

Micro- to macro- sociology,

a bit of theology,  God bless.


There’s structure

and function,

identity, process,

abilities, unction.


There are roles and habits

to assess,

routines and interests

to address.


There’s history, framework

and principled theories,

Models and practice,

and, lest you grow weary:


Consider relationships,

values, beliefs,

cognition, attention,

caregiver relief.


Assessing environment,

ergonomics and means,

selecting equipment,

for elders or teens.


We modify, formulate

and make adaptations.

We codify, delegate

and give adulations.


All of this knowledge concealed from your view,

we come alongside and spend time with you.

We share in your struggle,

engage your connection;

we want to do more than facilitate function.

For joy, and purpose,

and efficacy too,

are the pillars supporting what humans can do.


We’re primed for the NICU,

the preemie-pound baby;

to nestle him, swaddle her,

give hope for what may be.

Teach parents and nurses

to grade stimulation:

his stress signs, her turning. . .

reduce light, sound and touch,

like a womb, for the learning.

Chin tuck, cheek support,

respect gaze aversion;

promoting connection,

’til infant can burgeon.


Then, later on,

tummy time,

feeding and play,

motor skills,


into something all day.


Sensory processing,

modulation and then,

integration for ease

of all systems to blend.

Bringing the just-right challenge,

we grow–

producing responses

in beautiful flow.


Developing handwriting,

visual perception,

peer interactions

and social connection.


Teens needing special consideration,

peer groups and identity,

with little oration.

Any splint that we form,

or device that we craft

better suit the teen norm

so they won’t feel outcast.


On to adulthood,

where the great inclination–

to establish and master,

with keen inspiration,

independence and skill

in the face of impairment.

We come alongside,

being tough, with endearment.

Empowering patience,

setting goals for today,

equipping the wounded

with a will and a way.


You’ll find us with elders

wherever the need;

healing with basics

from bathing and dressing, to pulling a weed.

It may seem we’re playing when we bring you your putter,

but we’re really ensuring your balance is better.

“I can cook this at home,”

you may say with assurance.

“Teach me how,” we implore,

(for your safety, endurance).

Whether cooking or eating,

standing or seating,

playing piano, or maybe just listening,

balancing checkbooks

or just reminiscing;

we’re facilitating

what matters to you,

showing your value

whether just be, or do.


And then, in the workplace,

the healthcare machine–

equipped here to manage,

so much to convene:

Keeping ethics, best practice

and excellence as key,

we do billing and coding,

document properly.

For without reimbursement,

we could not continue

to make such a difference

For someone–like you.


So, in all walks of life

there is some occupation;

we therapists share

this one aspiration:

To be about

the work of imbuing

The beauty of

human beings, doing.


Did I mention that I love occupational therapy? 😉

Everyone knows someone who needs to hear about OT. Link up, pingback, spread the word! Please, all of you OT’s out there, add a stanza or two and tell us what you do.


©Joan T. Warren



9 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on Gotta Be OT and commented:
    This is a wonderful poem and explanation about what occupational therapy is (and is not) that I wanted to share! I had never seen this blog before, but I’ll definitely be following now!


  2. Loved it Ms Joan! Really good and thanks to me having Mary, I know what half those words meant! 🙂 You are the best..and I tell everyone that works with me , all about you and how great you are!! If it wasn’t for you, Mary wouldn’t be as smart as she is for her age! She is amazing at the things she does and I have you to thank for alot of it! 🙂


    • Hi! Great to hear from you, thanks so much for reading and commenting! You know I miss you all so much. Miss Mary has always been smart!!! All I did is facilitate her ability to show it and grow it! You, and her family, make the most difference and always will. You guys have a blessed family system, you will make it through everything. Stay in touch, okay?


  3. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time in mental health institutions as I thought it would be good experience for later on in life. Anyway, in all the time that I was in hospital I met many nurses, doctors and nutters, however I only met one occupational therapist but he made a lasting impression on me, more so than the others.
    He decided that it would be a good idea to look at the famous “To be, or not to be”, Shakespeare speech in Hamlet because it is basically about suicide. We went through it line by line and picked it apart and put it back together again and I was so happy to be able to do this and have my brain stimulated. I was only 18 at the time, looking back now I know that he obviously knew that I would enjoy it so much and even though I always appreciated what he did, in many respects I appreciate it even more now because he was good enough at what he did to be able to choose something that he knew I would like.
    He also taught me how to make apple crumble, but if we ever get trapped in an apocalyptic scenario where you have to delegate roles to people depending upon their skills, don’t put me down to cook, it won’t work.
    God bless Shakespeare.
    God bless Poetry.
    God bless Occupational Therapists.
    and God bless anyone who has to eat apple crumble made by Mark, they’ll need all the help that they can get.


    • Mark, you never cease to amaze me. Now you have topped it all with such an authentic, rewarding and hilarious response to my post today. God bless YOU, sir. I, for one, am glad you decided to be, and that you keep on deciding it.

      Readers, if you haven’t checked out Mark’s blog, please do. He has assembled much more than an apple crumb pie. There is so much to soak in from this beautiful, growing work of art:


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