Occupation therapy is a growing field around the world, and the subject and focus of occupational therapist is varied. Since fall 1997 Occupational therapy has been a field of study at the University of Akureyri, it entails a four-year program that concludes with a B.S. degree. Up until that point all Icelandic occupational therapist had to pursue their studies abroad.
It has always been a characteristic of the human experience to have various pursuits to occupy one self. Studies have shown that people that find themselves unable to engage in the pursuits they find important, often have their wellbeing negatively impacted.
Pursuits can entail anything in people’s daily lives, whether that by taking care of other, working in various fields and enjoying what life has to offer. As an example of a pursuit one could mention the act of getting ready, preparing food, driving a car, working as a cashier, writing an essay, going skiing or painting a picture. Even though these pursuits may seem as something to be taken for granted and seem easy to most, they can be very difficult for people that have not been able to develop typically, had diseases, who have reached a certain age or suffered some type of shock. When such difficulties arise that affect people´s daily pursuits the expertise of occupational therapist can assist people to increase their activity and ability. So in turn those individuals can become more independent and gain greater fulfillment.
Occupational therapists use education, counseling and training in order to increase people’s abilities. To begin with it is necessary to make an exact assessment of the capability and interest of the client, his/her pursuits and circumstances. Training can entail strengthening the individual’s abilities that are necessary within the parameters of certain pursuits. Those abilities can be things like mobility, perception, cognition, emotional approach or social interaction.
Often occupational therapist will operate with groups and provide education and counsel in how to change one’s way of life, for instance to counteract workload, changing working conditions and to control the stresses of daily life. An example of counsel would also be in giving advice in restructuring house so a client is able to get around in a wheelchair or how to best teach family and friends to use the aids designed to help take care of a disabled child.