Frequently Asked Questions

We get lots of questions about the practice of Occupational Therapy and what TOTA does every day. Here are a few of the more common questions:

What is occupational therapy?
What do occupational therapists do?
What about the training?
Where do occupational therapists practice?
How much do occupational therapists make?
Does TOTA issue licenses for OTRs and COTAs?
Is continuing education required in Texas?
How are continuing education courses pre-approved in Texas?
• How can I contact TOTA?
What does TOTA do?

What is occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy is a method of treatment that uses purposeful occupations, those things that we do everyday in life, to return individuals with disability to function. The American Occupational Therapy Association has a motto that expresses OT well: OT: Skills for the Job of Living

What do occupational therapists do?
Occupational therapists work with individuals who have been disabled by injury, illness, disease processes, developmental delay, or through the aging process. Disabilities can be physical or mental. Occupational therapists work with a variety of patients throughout the age spectrum. In the past, occupational therapy has been ordered through a physician. However, thanks to our efforts in the 1999 Texas Legislative Session, OTs my now accept referrals from all licensed health care providers. People in early intervention programs, schools, work sites, and other community sites like sheltered workshops or adult day care may access occupational therapy without a physician referral if there is no acute or active medical situation. These programs may have some other decision-making committee or body that helps determine the need for OT services, but in some cases there is direct access. If the clients wish their health insurance to reimburse them for services, the insurance company may require a physician referral, but it is not a legal requirement if their condition is static.

Here are some examples of the broad spectrum of OT care:

Through occupational therapy older adults learn to:

  • Adapt to changes brought about by aging, such as decreased energy and vision
  • Safely perform routine activities such as dressing and cooking
  • Increase physical strength and endurance to maintain self-sufficiency
  • Identify community resources such as senior centers and stoke clubs
  • Cope with the losses of aging such as the death of a spouse or friend
  • Adapt the home for safety and efficiency
  • Recognize and counteract depression

Occupational therapy is important for children with:

  • Developmental delay
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Developmental disabilities, including mental retardation, spina bifida, and cerebral palsy
  • Sensory integrative dysfunction
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and related disorders
  • Learning disabilities, including dyslexia
  • Delayed or impaired motor development
  • Orthopedic disabilities, traumatic injuries, burn, and amputations
  • Emotional disturbances, behavioral problems, autism, phobic behaviors, psychotic illness, and attention deficit disorders
  • Terminal illnesses

Occupational therapy is important for adults with problems related to:

  • Work injuries, including amputation, hand trauma, and burns
  • Cardiovascular disease, including myocardial infarction and peripheral vascular diseases
  • Mental health problems, including stress reactions, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and schizophrenia
  • Neurological dysfunction, including brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, and neuropathy
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has an excellent and comprehensive explanation of what OT is and what OT practitioners do. This includes projections about the future of the profession and salary information.

What about the training?
The occupational therapist must graduate from an accredited program and complete 6-9 months of supervised clinical experience. Texas OT programs.

The occupational therapy assistant completes an accredited associate degree program and at least 12 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience. Texas OTA programs.

Following the completion of course and clinical work, the therapist or assistant must pass a national certification examination to become a designated OTR or COTA. In addition, states regulate occupational therapy through licensure and continuing educational requirements.

Where do occupational therapists practice?
Occupational therapists may be employed in various settings. Many are in general and rehabilitation hospitals, medical offices, clinics, public and private schools, nursing homes, mental health centers, community centers, and in home health.

How much do occupational therapists make?
See the above-referenced Bureau of Labor Statistics web page regarding occupational therapy. Additonally, there are several helpful salary resources listed on the Links page of this web site.

Does TOTA issue licenses for OTRs and COTAs?
No. Occupational therapy licenses are issued by the Texas Board of OT Examiners (TBOTE). TBOTE is a state agency and all OT professionals must be licensed to practice in Texas. For further information about obtaining or renewing (or any information about licensure) in Texas, contact TBOTE:

Phone number: (512) 305-6900
Fax number: (512) 305-6970

Is continuing education required in Texas?
Thirty (30) hours of continuing education are required every two years to maintain licensure in Texas - 15 hours of which must be type 2 education. For a complete explanation of type 1 and type 2 courses, check the Texas Board of OT Examiners' web site.

How are continuing education courses pre-approved in Texas?
In January of 2003, TOTA instituted an Approved Provider Program in coordination with the Texas licensing board. All continuing education courses offered by TOTA Approved Providers are considered to be pre-approved by the Texas Board of OT Examiners. If you have any questions regarding the process of becoming an approved provider, contact Mary Hennigan at mary@tota.org.

How can I contact TOTA?
The address, phone and fax numbers are at the bottom of this page, and you can contact the TOTA office via e-mail. Executive Director Mary Hennigan can be reached via this link. Vendor Services Coordinator Vicki Mason can be reached by email at VendorServices@tota.org. Member Services Coordinator Debbie Mincher can be reached by email at debbie@tota.org.

What does TOTA do?
For a list of membership benefits, see Membership.