One of my greatest honors and pleasures is introducing someone new to occupational therapy. I love it when someone says "Aren't you the squeezy-ball therapists?" or "You help me get a job, right?" and they are willing to hear me out.
I tell them OTs seek to empower people to participate in daily life regardless of disability, background, socioeconomic status, or any other factor. Our job is to empower people to promote their own health and wellness through what they do every day.
We may help a person with an intellectual or physical disability take care of themselves and live on their own; work with a mother and her children experiencing homelessness to come up with a daily rhythm that restores some stability and helps them meet their own needs; collaborate with a refugee agency to provide refugees with life skills programming to live independently in a new culture and provide emotional support.
In most conversations, my new friend's eyes widen and they say "Wow! I didn't know occupational therapy could do that!" I got them!
I gauge their interest and if I detect a fellow nerd, I may let slip that OT is well positioned to address the social determinants of health and would greatly augment public health efforts to alleviate poverty, empower marginalized populations, and promote national and international health. More on that another time ;)