28 Occupational Therapy Quotes!

28 occupational therapy quotes to inspire and guide your practice!

Looking for occupational therapy quotes to share on social media, pin-up in your office, or just refresh your OT spirit? 

These OT quotes are for you. 

As occupational therapists, we often have difficulty describing and defining our work. This is where quotes come in.

They give us the language to articulate what we intuit and build our practices on—like the essential value of daily activities or necessity of engaging the heart when it comes to healing.


(And feel free to share the images, whether for OT month or just everyday inspiration.) 

Quotes from the Early Years of OT

These gems were found during my research for my post “10 Amazing Moments in the History of OT.” 

“It’s not enough to give a patient something to do with their hands. You must reach for the heart as well as the hands. It’s the heart that really does the healing.”

Ora Ruggles, a pioneer in occupational therapy
Ora Ruggles Quote. It's the heart that really does the healing.

“In your chosen field, a part of the noblest work of man– the care and relief of weak and suffering humanity– may you realize in increasing measure the value of certain spiritual things which are the making of life, but which we call by many common names. Kindness, humanity, decency, honor, good faith– to give these up under any circumstances would be a greater loss than any defeat, or even death itself.”

Thomas Bessell Kidner, from a 1929 OT graduation speech

Reverently and earnestly do I pledge my whole-hearted services in aiding those in my care.

To this end that my work for the sick may be successful, I will strive for greater knowledge, skill, and understanding in the discharge of my duties in whatsoever position I may find myself.

I solemnly declare I will hold and keep whatever I may learn of the lives of sick.

I acknowledge the dignity of the cure of disease and the safe-guarding of human health, in which no act is menial or inglorious.

I will walk in up-right faithfulness and obedience to those under whose guidance I am to work, and I ask for patience, kindliness and strength in the holy ministry to broken minds and bodies.

— AOTA Pledge, adopted 1926

The Value of Daily Activities

From Laura Ingalls to Ana Tijoux (a French-Chilean hip-hop artist), assertions of the value of daily activities pop-up across literature and art.

Here’s some of my favorites:

“It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness.”

— Thomas Jefferson, Personal letter to his sister

“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness — just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breathe it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”

— Laura Ingalls Wilder, Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder

“I think we live in a world where the most important thing is daily life: sharing a space with your family, making meals, being with your people. It’s not only the idea of privacy, it’s the beauty of the moment, at a time in the world when everything goes really fast – too fast.”

— Ana Tijoux

“A man’s motive in the small actions of daily life, like resting a moment on his pitchfork in the sun and listening intently, may be the most important thing about that man.”

— Haniel Long

This next quote from Joan Didion might need some context. It comes from her memoir about the sudden death of her husband and concurrent illness of her daughter. It is the best articulation I could find of a sentiment that I have encountered from both clients and friends – that daily tasks can serve as anchors in times of grieving and loss.  

“I learned to find equal meaning in the repeated rituals of domestic life. Setting the table. Lighting the candles. Building the fire. Cooking. All those soufflés, all that crème caramel, all those daubes and albóndigas and gumbos. Clean sheets, stacks of clean towels, hurricane lamps for storms, enough water and food to see us through whatever geological event came our way. These fragments I have shored against my ruins, were the words that came to mind then. These fragments mattered to me. I believed in them. That I could find meaning in the intensely personal nature of life as a wife and mother did not seem inconsistent with finding meaning in the vast indifference of geology and the test shots.”

— Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

“Care asserts that as difficult and painful as life can be, it is worth something to be in the present, alive, and doing one’s daily bit.”

— Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

— Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
Annie Dillard occupational therapy quote

Occupational Therapy Treatment

The Mary Reily quote is the most famous quote I could find from an occupational therapist. It is derived from the 1961 Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture, titled “Occupational Therapy Can Be One of The Great Ideas of 20th Century Medicine.” The title in itself is an inspiration.

“Man, through the use of his hands, as they are energized by mind and will, can influence the state of his own health.”

Mary Reily, OTR, EdD

Tell me and I forget.
Teach me and I remember.
Involve me and I learn.

— Chinese Proverb

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

— African Proverb

“You treat a disease: you win, you lose.
You treat a person, I guarantee you win-no matter what the outcome.”

— Patch Adams
Mary Reily occupational therapy quote

The Art of Being an Occupational Therapist

I tend to overanalyze the exact language I use in difficult situations. Daily, I wish I had chosen my words differently. The Maya Angelou quote was introduced to me back in college and helps me focus on making people feel cared for. The Eleanor Brownn quotes reminds me to also take time to care for myself.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

— Maya Angelou

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

— Eleanor Brownn

Making Progress

All three quotes emphasize the importance of breaking tasks down into small steps—and then taking things one step at a time. 

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking down complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

— Mark Twain

“You need to be content with small steps. That’s all life is. Small steps that you take every day so when you look back down the road it all adds up and you know you covered some distance.”

— Katie Kacvinsky

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”

— Helen Keller
Helen Keller occupational therapy quote

The Art of Play

Our training gives us a unique perspective into the holistic value of play across the lifespan. While play is usually associated with pediatric OT, I love seeing OTs advocate for play opportunities from infancy through old age. 

“Watching a child makes it obvious that the development of his mind comes through his movements.”

— Maria Montessori

“You can discover more about a person in a hour of play than a year of conversation.”

— Plato

Quotes from our Instagram

We’re increasing our frequency of posts over on our Instagram channel. Many of the posts we’ve been sharing are quotes from some of the amazing OT experts we’ve been interviewing on the OT Potential Podcast.

“We don’t use nature for therapy. We co-facilitate therapy with nature.”

— Laura Park Figueroa, MS, OTR/L
Laura Park Figueroa occupational therapy quote

“As someone goes through the difficulty of cancer, remember (as an OT) you’re able to be a light and provide hope and comfort that will make a difference.”

— Vanessa Monique Yanez, MSOT, OTR/L
Vanessa Yanez Quote. As an OT you're able to be a light.

“You are the detective of your own body and I’m just here to help you find the map.”

— Lindsey Vestal, MS, OTR/L
Lindsey Vestal Quote. You are the detective of your own body.

“The most important time with parents is when they’re present and actively participating in the session—not so much about what I’m doing, but what I’m teaching the parents and what they’re able to do with their child.”

— Michelle DeJesus, MS, OTR/L
Michelle DeJesus Quote. The most important time with parents is when they're present and actively participating in the session.

“How are we (as OTs) decreasing barriers and increasing access?”

— Arameh Anvarizadeh, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Arameh Anvarizadeh Quote. How are we decreasing barriers and increasing access?

“In the future, I would love to see OTs in mental health help to design the systems, programs and environments that support occupational health and well being.”

— Lauren Jones, MS, OTR/L
Lauren Jones Quote. I would love to see OTs in mental health help to design the systems, programs and environments.

If you’d like to keep up with us on Instagram or other social media channels, you can find us here:

I would love to keep adding to this compilation over time! If you have any quotes that you have inspired your occupational therapy practice, please share! 

16 replies on “28 Occupational Therapy Quotes!”

What an Idea Sarah! Quotes about Occupational Therapy ! Superb collection of all related quotes.

We can use it as our linked in Tagline or we can print that as a footer note in our OT resume. If you are applying to a pediatric setup for a job – use the Child-OT quotes, if you are applying to rehab set-up – use a rehab quote and that will surely put an extra value or one can say, the reader will give a second look to your resume. Also good to keep it as a beautiful OT- photoframe in OT departments and Clinics for people to read and motivate them. Lots of uses !

It is an amazing blog to read and one can save it in a folder for a lifetime.

Thanks, Hiral! I’ve definitely thought about how I would love to have some of these quotes up on the wall if I owned my own OT practice. I hadn’t thought about putting them on a resume… but I definitely like that idea. It was a fun post to do and I’m glad you liked it!

How about this:
"Play is often talked about as if it were a serious relief from learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood. "
Fred Rogers

Look at the poem Speak Gently by David Bates. I keep a copy on my desk because it speaks of how we should treat all our patients, friends and family.

This poem is a true gem! Thank you for introducing it to me! I feel like this should hang on my bathroom mirror. I will have to start brainstorming a way to incorporate it into this site. I think many OTs would be inspired by it.

Hi Sarah,
I love the quotes and they might be the inspiration I am looking for to use during OT week here in Australia next month.
Would love to hear your thoughts on any other innovative marketing ideas!

That’s a great idea! If you chose a specific quote to focus on, let me know and maybe I will make an image for it to post on my blog and social media in honor of the week. Feel free to email me at sarah@otpotential.com to keep this conversation going.

Also, I think next month is Canada’s occupational therapy month, so it will be fun to watch what they roll out. You might find some inspiration for your own campaign.

I am a quote fanatic as well and I so appreciate your choices. Just what I needed to hear in the scurry of a very tough work environment in skilled nursing these days….

Thank you for your post. Have we missed the meaning of OT? Yes, the seemingly mundane is actually all we have.
Saint Theresa of Lisieux is noted for her "little way". She did little things with Great Love.
Here is one quote of many:
"One word or a pleasing smile is often enough to raise up a saddened and wounded soul."
peace to you.

Thank you for sharing these words from Saint Theresa! This makes me want to read her autobiography, "Story of a Soul." There are many religious writers and thinkers that have inspired my work as an OT. That could be a whole blog post unto itself 🙂

Thank you so much for these quotes, they are so inspiring and relevant for OT. It is so important for us to reinforce these concepts to our students. Their book knowledge is wonderful, but the merging this with of the appreciation of life and compassion is a treasure!
Libby Rogers, OT
Birmingham Alabama

Thank You!
I am sharing some of these quotes with families of the pre-schoolers I work with. Life seems more difficult during this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Thank you so much for these wonderful quotes. I do have some other quotes that I would like to share with you. Let me know how to submit them.

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