Skip to main content

Teaching For the Future of Occupational Therapy (OT) and Recreational Therapy (RT)

Occupational Therapy and Recreational Therapy share philosophical roots and the belief that health and quality of life only emerge when people regularly engage in a healthy variety of meaningful activities.

The Department fosters opportunities for interprofessional education that better prepares students to model or promote well-functioning health care teams and promotes a strong interface of colleagues and resources for collaboration.

We value engagement in research related to how participation in activities influences health and quality of life and the development and refinement of interventions effective in facilitating such participation.

We are committed to educating strong clinicians, researchers, and leaders for the unfolding future.


To discover and transmit knowledge through research, education and service relevant to occupational therapy and recreational therapy. Our research emphasizes the promotion of health and participation in valued life activities using an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach. We are committed to providing a safe and inclusive space for a diverse group of students to participate in a high quality, transformative educational experience. We prepare innovative OT and RT practitioners and scholars who provide evidence-based service. Our scholarly, educational, service and clinical activities meet unique needs of our communities.


Recognized as leaders in health research, clinical services and education of occupational therapists and recreational therapists who meet the needs of a diverse and dynamic society.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Many people face daily challenges – a refugee new to America, an injured worker returning to work, a child with autism at school, a grandfather who has had a hip replaced, a young adult with a traumatic brain injury, a mother with depression.

Occupational Therapists help people learn new ways to do things they used to do but, for whatever reason, can no longer do them. Occupational therapy helps people be successful in doing what is important to them.

An occupational therapist should be resourceful, compassionate, a good listener, a creative problem-solver and interested in health, science and the arts. Occupational therapy is a perfect blend of life science (anatomy & physiology) and social science (psychology & sociology). Occupational therapists have knowledge of the person and the environment and how to support the person in what they want and need to do. Occupational therapists make a difference.

How can I learn more about occupational therapy?

There are a number of ways to learn more about Occupational Therapy:

  • American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) website
  • Utah Occupational Therapy Association (UOTA) website
  • What's Occupational Therapy? blog
  • Contact the occupational therapy department of a hospital, rehabilitation center, clinic, or other facility and ask to observe or volunteer.
  • Interview an occupational therapist.
  • Take our Introduction to Occupational Therapy course OC TH 3000.
  • Make an appointment with a career counselor.  U of U students can visit Career Services

What is the difference between a degree as an occupational therapist (OT) and a degree as an occupational therapy assistant (OTA)?

In a statement by the Joint OTA and OT Program Directors it was determined, Technical (OTA) and professional (OT) level occupational therapy programs are two distinct paths of study leading to complementary, but different practice roles.

The program at the University of Utah is a program leading to an OT at the master's entry-level. The State of Utah has an OTA program at Salt Lake Community College.

Expected Learning Outcomes

What is Recreational Therapy?

“Recreational therapy, also known as therapeutic recreation, is a systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery and well-being.

A recreational therapist utilizes a wide range of activity and community based interventions and techniques to improve the physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and leisure needs of their clients. Recreational therapists assist clients to develop skills, knowledge, and behaviors for daily living and community involvement. The therapist works with the client and their family to incorporate specific interests and community resources into therapy to achieve optimal outcomes that transfer to their real life situation.”

American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA), 2016

How can I learn more about recreational therapy?

There are a number of ways to learn more about recreational therapy:

  • American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) website
  • Utah Recreation Therapy Association (URTA) website
  • Interview an recreational therapist
  • Make an appointment with a career counselor.  U of U students can visit Career Services


Current salary information can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics - Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Occupational Therapist

Recreational Therapist