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Investing in Therapy’s Future

Investing in Therapy’s Future – Jason M., OT

As therapists we all attended the hallowed halls of colleges and universities to complete their therapy programs. We bought all the books. We wrote way too many papers we’ve long since forgotten. We attended class, after class, after class; some of which we wonder to this day why we even needed to attend. After all that time, energy, sweat, blood, tears, and especially money invested in “therapy training”, where do you think a future therapist learns the most? Ask anyone practicing in the field and they will tell you…their clinical and fieldwork.

All the academic time spent learning theory, therapeutic approach, and treatment outlines means nothing without an effective clinical experience. Like a blacksmith teaching his apprentice, you can describe have to heat the metal and where the hammer should fall, but they are actually sweating over an anvil, they cannot truly know how to do it.

I encourage you to take a student whenever reasonably possible the make them your apprentice. They have spent years of their life preparing for this time and now they need to be hands-on. They need to experience a variety of treatments, patients, approaches, and settings to better prepare them for their time in the trade of therapy.

As a practicing OT I’m surprised at what I hear therapy students are taught at times, considering the real-world situations in therapy services I see every day. The schools are not to blame, though. It is our job as therapist to take what information students have been given and teach them to apply it.

In taking a student there are also the personal benefits as well. Of course the onsite supervision hours counted as continuing education credits are nice, but that’s not what I mean. Whether it has been 5 or 25 years out in the field as a therapist, you probably have forgotten some facets of therapy. Like an unused muscle, your knowledge is still there, but it has weakened. The inquiring mind and questions of a student can often stimulate those theories, treatments, and techniques we’ve forgotten over time. In that respect, investing in a student is an investment in you.

In summary, as a therapist, always be open and embrace the opportunity to take and supervise a therapy student. Creating an engaging and fulfilling clinical experience can positively impact student’s entire career as a therapist. Investing to make better student now ensures a better future for therapy services and the positive effect they will have for patients.