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“Helping those I work with learn to gain a sense of control over their state of regulation is one of my passions in life as a mom, author, and occupational therapist.

Lauren Brukner (MS '09)

NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy alum Lauren Brukner is a senior pediatric occupational therapist (OT), published author, and columnist for HuffPost and Autism Parenting Magazine. Since graduating with her MS in Occupational Therapy in 2009, Lauren also developed and wrote the “Awesome and in Control Curriculum,” a series of books providing tips and techniques to help children self-regulate their emotions and senses.

We connected with Lauren to learn more about her career, goals for the future, and advice for aspiring OTs.

Lauren Brukner

Lauren Brukner. Photo courtesy of Abbie Sophia Photography.

What inspired you to become an occupational therapist (and a pediatric OT in particular)? 

I have always loved working with kids and spent many summers shadowing children with developmental disabilities. When researching potential careers, I happened across occupational therapy. I loved the idea that OTs help individuals attain independence. In college, I went with a family friend (who is a pediatric OT) to her clinic and fell in love with the profession while seeing the joy that she brought her clients through meaningful activity. 

What was the most influential part of your experience in the MS program? 

I think pushing through my more challenging courses was most meaningful to me. I am not a “science person,” but I knew that I wanted to be an OT and sat in the library for literally six hours at a time studying my notes in anatomy and kinesiology. That passion carried through to my work now.

Could you tell us more about the work you’re doing now? 

I am a pediatric OT and evaluator for the New York City Department of Education, which I have been doing for the past ten years. Six years ago, I wrote my first book in what is now called the “Awesome and in Control Curriculum” based off of my self-regulation work with kids in NYC’s schools. I now have six books in that program. I conduct workshops based on my books for schools as well.

A stack of books authored by Lauren.

Lauren’s books offer exercises and strategies to help children label their emotions and feel calm in their bodies and minds.

What would you consider to be the greatest accomplishment of your career so far? What are your goals for the future?

I am proud to say that three of my books have been endorsed by Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, amazing leaders in their respective fields. I am honored that my books have been featured on news outlets such as Real Simple, Inc. Magazine, and Psych Central. My goal for the future is to continue to push myself to get my books out there. And maybe to do professional development for therapists it’s a matter of finding the time!

What is the greatest challenge you face as an OT professional? How are you working to overcome it? 

It’s definitely finding the time to work on marketing my books, further developing professional development around them, providing my all at my current job, and being the best mom and wife that I can be. There aren’t enough hours in the day! In terms of overcoming that, I think it’s a matter of continuing to balance my time the best that I can.

What advice would you give to an aspiring OT? 

Check out what OTs do in different work environments. Give it your all once you start. Ask questions. This profession provides us with the potential to affect change in so many ways! How do you want to change the world?

About the Master's in OT

Master of Science
Occupational Therapy
Professional Degree

The NYU Steinhardt Professional MS in Occupational Therapy prepares graduates to become registered occupational therapists.

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Occupational Therapy

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New York, NY 10003
Phone: 212-998-5825

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