Occupational therapists have a long-standing familiarity with and commitment to the concept of change. Our professional practice has always had a primary focus on assisting individuals as they adapt to change due to disability and disease. The recent literature on adaptation, stress, and coping presents a picture of how important our professional expertise is in helping people interact effectively in their environments. Now, as we enter a decade of unprecedented technological advances and associated social and economic response, we are finding that we must make significant changes if we are to survive as a profession.

As part of the General Sessions series at the 1983 AOTA Annual Conference, this paper addresses the issues confronting the changing individual in the ’80s by exploring the new and expanding roles for occupational therapists in the near future. Outside influences, including consumer-based health trends, medical and scientific developments, and new patient and client needs, are discussed and analyzed according to their impact on internal professional factors such as leadership, management, and business skills.

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