Occupational Therapy Internships in Cape Town
Learn practical occupational therapy skills and life experience assisting qualified therapists in clinics, care facilities, hospitals and schools. Help to provide treatment and diagnosis, learning from experienced professionals and assisting individuals with a range of specific care needs.
- Gain experience applying your theoretical knowledge in real life therapy sessions
- Contribute to rehabilitation and treatment for people with a range of conditions
- Enjoy spare time exploring the unique and eclectic city of Cape Town, and wider South Africa
Type of host organizations:
- Healthcare clinics
- Care facilities
Learn practical occupational therapy skills and gain real life experience assisting qualified therapists in clinics, care facilities, hospitals and schools as an Occupational Therapy intern. Help to provide treatment and diagnosis, learning from experienced professionals and assisting individuals with a range of specific care needs.
This is an in-country internship, with accommodation provided.
Interns on this Occupational Therapy internship in Cape Town build upon your theoretical knowledge foundations by experiencing practical applications alongside local professionals. Gain insight into a wide range of treatments as you help those that are struggling to improve or regain skills and mobility. You’ll gain insight into the stigmas and obstacles faced by individuals within marginalized communities, help to increase independence and self-esteem, while contributing to reversing negative societal attitudes about disability.
Typical placements for Occupational Therapy interns include children’s hospitals, special education schools, or care facilities for those with disabilities. You can also hone your skills at occupational therapy centers, which provide specialist care for those with issues such as traumatic brain injuries, trauma, oncology, burns, feeding disorders, autism, facial palsy, Down syndrome, and lymphedema.
Although daily tasks will vary widely and are influenced by your own skills and experience, interns generally assist with the day-to-day care and rehabilitation of patients. This can include physical therapy or treatment, educational and vocational training, and counseling. Interns are matched to a suitable placement that matches your skills, experience, educational background, and duration of your stay.
In all cases, interns should expect that the first week of your experience will focus on settling in and gaining some introductory knowledge, as you will not “hit the ground running”. Rather, you should start with learning about the placement to gain an understanding of what you can build upon, develop, learn, and contribute. Ensure that you ask questions and provide feedback during the introductory period, so that your supervisor understands how you’re progressing. This will help them to better understand important details, such as how quickly you learn, what you find challenging, what you find interesting, etc.
Understand and expect that individual internship experiences vary, as the specific placement that you’re assigned will depend on review of your resume and your current level of studies and experience. Therefore, if you’re at a more introductory level, you should reasonably expect a more introductory internship. Likewise, if you’re interning for a shorter duration, you will have a different experience from someone who is interning for a longer duration. Placement preferences are considered but always subject to availability.
Occupational Therapy interns learn from a qualified and experienced supervisor, and can be involved in:
Shadowing and assisting in therapy sessions
Educational and workplace training
Counseling in assistance with professional staff
Assisting with general clerical support
Professional development opportunities:
Learn how experienced therapists conduct therapy sessions
Gain specialized knowledge in the treatment of specific conditions
Understand how patient relationships are built and managed
Gain understanding of the day-to-day life of an occupational therapist
Build communication skills
Gain practical skills and boost your employability, with guidance from Intern Abroad HQ’s Experiential Learning Curriculum to support your learning and cultural intelligence.
South Africa photo gallery
What recent interns said about their experience
My internship experience was incredible! I loved learning and working every day and being pushed out of my comfort zone by working in a whole other field, with age groups I have not had a lot of experience with in the past. The diversity meant I had something to learn no matter where I looked. I went into my Occupational Therapy internship with an open mind and an open heart and like a sponge, I absorbed everything I could. My original intentions were to intern within a more physical setting, performing ADL's (Activities of Daily Living) and working on fine motor skills, spatial skills, verbal skills even, or everyday tasks - but never did I imagine I would get the chance to experience a psychological setting as well! In general, I'd say the experience was just what I needed. It taught me so much about communication, patience, and compassion. All things that are applicable no matter how I choose to use my degree/title. I now feel more empowered to be successful within my field, as this internship has given me tools that I didn't know I was missing. It shook me out of my comfort zone, and it made me look at everything differently. I have an edge now, and I feel empowered to use it and make a difference within my field. The advice I would give to others is just to do it. There’s nothing I can write that can explain the magnitude of the experience. It is so worthwhile and enriching to both personal and professional lives alike. Covid-19 had little effect on my trip and we were on Level 4 lockdown. We found ways to have fun - and we had different experiences, sure - but they were awesome nonetheless. We had to be creative, and it was still unforgettable. It’s safe, and everyone is very careful. The only thing I recommend is to always follow CDC guidelines, just like you would at home.
Intern Abroad HQ is an amazing organization. Their team was phenomenal in providing as much information as possible when I was very sceptical and unsure. After all, one wanted to make sure they weren't being thrown into another continent without any support or idea! Dallas was very helpful in helping me prepare for my internship. Their online journal assignments were a great way for me to document and ponder my experiences as they happened and were very good at keeping tabs on me and my family when I had a medical emergency. This I cannot emphasize enough; they have your back from start to finish. My liaison-contact there, Elisha, is such an amazing guide and overall a chill dude to hang around with. For him, it is a matter of who he doesn't know him in Cape Town, which helped a lot when seeking the most beautiful locations and the best activities. The housing there is very college dorm-like. You may live with students, both from abroad or local, and the area of Obs (Observatory) is a unique and interesting community. One thing is for sure, there is always someone down to have fun with at the Freeland lodge. I am preparing to become an occupational therapist and chose this program to intern under. The Kaya branch of Akeso Clinics in Cape Town has a great team of psychologists, occupational therapists and social workers that had great methods in treating adolescents with mental health disorders and a whole variety of issues pertaining to being a troubled youth. I came to work every day caring for the patients and was privileged to see their progress as they worked out very difficult issues in a communal setting under professional guidance. Great people at Akeso - Kaya, they are very accommodating with interns and felt just like family. I cannot state enough how great my experience was. If anyone wanted to have a good experience interning in Cape Town I recommend coming with an open mind. Be accepting that things can be uncomfortable and different. Learn how to flourish with the idea that plans don't always go as they were intended and that the best moments can be spontaneous.
I spent 6 weeks in Cape Town, South Africa doing an occupational therapy internship. I had the best 6 weeks of my life, and learned so much in such a short time. I was able to experience the incredibly welcoming culture of SA, gain valuable observation hours which will help me in the future, meet tons of awesome fellow interns and students, and experience many of the awesome activities and beauty of Cape Town and the surrounding area has to offer. I wish I could have spent so much more time here. Thank you to InternAbroad for answering all of my questions and making sure I was prepared and informed before my trip, as well as providing support during the trip if I ever needed it. To anyone who is thinking of doing an internship - don't let fear hold you back! Take an open mind, be flexible and enjoy your experience abroad!
To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.
Academic credit available for all internships
Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing an internship abroad or remote internship program with Intern Abroad HQ.Learn about course credit
It’s free to apply for this internship. Once we have reviewed your suitability and accepted you onto this program, you’ll need to pay a deposit of US$499 to confirm your place. The remaining balance of your Program Fee (less your initial US$499 deposit payment) will be due no less than 60 days before your internship start date.
Program Fee (USD)
|$2,149 Equivalent to $76 /day
|$2,320 Equivalent to $66 /day
|$2,517 Equivalent to $59 /day
|$2,859 Equivalent to $51 /day
|$3,514 Equivalent to $50 /day
|$3,858 Equivalent to $45 /day
|$4,654 Equivalent to $41 /day
|$5,340 Equivalent to $38 /day
|$6,027 Equivalent to $35 /day
- Airport pick-up
- 24/7 in-country support
- Program orientation
- Dedicated support before, during, and after your internship
- In-country guidance for social and tourist activities
- Sourcing and securing your internship placement
- Personalization of your internship plan
- Coaching from your supervisor
- Documented portfolio of your experiential learnings
- Academic credit facilitation
- International reference letter
- Certificate of Internship Completion
- All meals
- All in-country transportation
- Return transportation to the airport at program conclusion
- Visa (if required), flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check
- Transfer back to the airport at the end of your internship program
- Personal spending money for snacks, drinks, public transport, laundry, and leisure activities during your free time.
- A deposit of $499 (approximately 499) is required to secure your internship
- Balance of your Program Fee is due 60 days before your internship start date.
- All payments attract a 5% transaction fee to cover international banking fees and currency charges.
- Terms and Conditions apply.
Arrival and Orientation
Internships in Cape Town begin every Monday and interns may choose to spend a minimum of 2 weeks, up to a maximum of 24 weeks. (Exceptions to start date availability may occur when start dates are closed due to public holiday disruptions or if the program has already reached capacity). Fewer internship positions are available during late December and early January, due to the Christmas and New Year holiday period.
Airport pick up and accommodation are included in the Program Fee. The accommodation is covered from the Saturday night before the Monday start date. Interns are asked to arrive on the Saturday before their Monday start date, to allow sufficient time over the weekend to rest and become oriented before beginning on the Monday. The last night of accommodation that is covered by the Program Fee is the Friday night of the final week, leaving interns to depart on the Saturday morning. Extra nights of accommodation can be pre-arranged upon request and paid for separately.
All participants fly into the Cape Town International Airport (CPT), in order to receive their airport pick up and be transported to the accommodation by a pre-arranged driver. Upon arrival to the accommodation, interns are met by a local team member, who will greet them and assist with settling in. Note that all participants are advised not to book flights until they have first registered to confirm their internship placement.
Orientation typically takes place on the Sunday before the Monday start date. It covers important details for the internship, including introductions, information about culture, customs, rules, expectations, safety, language lessons, cultural excursions, and more. Interns join their placement on the following day.
If you are planning to spend time in Cape Town prior to your internship and will not require an airport pick up, we can arrange an alternative pick up from another location within the central city.
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Accommodation and WiFi
Internship placements are spread throughout Cape Town’s main city center and surrounding suburbs. Accommodation arrangements will be confirmed, once your internship placement has also been assigned. In most cases, accommodation will be situated in the upmarket suburb of Newlands, enjoyed for its leafy surroundings, access to hiking trails, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, and proximity to the beaches of Muizenberg and the CBD. Alternatively, accommodations may also be situated within the Observatory district, known for its student-friendly atmosphere and convenient proximity to the University of Cape Town.
Interns are accommodated within shared lodging, making it easy to connect with fellow program participants. Interns can expect to share a room with another intern (of the same gender). Bathrooms are also shared with a hot water shower and western toilets. WiFi is available and is also accessible at nearby cafes and restaurants. All accommodation provides cooking facilities.
Transportation is not provided for in-country commutes between the accommodation and internship placements, so all interns must budget for this independently. The maximum travel time is typically no more than 60 minutes each way (depending on traffic congestion in the city). In all cases, internship placements will be assigned in consideration of commute logistics and opportunities to ride-share with other interns, where possible.
For convenience and safety, local coordinators can arrange a dedicated shuttle service for ongoing placement commutes (Monday through Friday). The cost for this service ranges from approx. US$150 - US$250 a month, per person, depending on the location of your placement. (On a daily basis, this could be equated to approx. US$6-9 per day). If you want to organize this service, please communicate with coordinators when your placement details are being arranged in advance.
Alternatively, for the use of Uber, it is possible to spend US$10-US$20 per day on rides, depending on where you’re going. Please budget for this, especially if you intend to use this transportation method a lot during weekends and free time.
It is important to note that internships in Cape Town do not include meals. The accommodation is located within short walking distance to an affordable supermarket, as well as great cafes and restaurants. All accommodation also provides cooking facilities.
You can readily drink the tap water throughout the city. However, it is advised to bring your own water supply when traveling to and interning in the townships.
You should aim to budget approximately US$100 per week for food. If you like to go out frequently (rather than going to the grocery store to prepare some of your own meals) then you need to budget up to US$150 per week, at least (this budget can vary depending on personal spending habits). Note that, when you go to a restaurants, there is a cultural expectation to tip at least 10%.
Activities and tourism
On the weekend, interns have spare time to relax and explore. There’s something for everyone, with nightlife, café culture, music, festivals, food markets, wine tours, hiking, and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the continent! Here are some of our top picks for activities around Cape Town:
Hiking around Table Mountain National Park, just ten minutes from central Cape Town, is a great option to keep fit and healthy and there are lots of trails to explore for any level of adventurer. Reach the top of Table mountain by foot, or take a return cable-car. Don’t forget to challenge yourself to summit Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head!
Shark cage diving is an exhilarating experience - if you’re feeling brave enough! Get eye-to-eye with a great white from the safety of a cage or observe from the comfort of the boat. Most dives cost around $130USD, but shop around and speak to others to ensure you get a fair price (based on the season).
The Neighbourgoods Market, located at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock (close to the Observatory district) features over 100 specialty traders every Saturday, creating a weekly platform for local farmers, fine-food purveyors, organic merchants, bakers and distributors, grocers, mongers, butchers, artisan producers, celebrated local chefs, and micro enterprises. Don’t miss it!
Kick back and relax over the weekend, with a slow-paced wine tour through some of Cape Town’s loveliest estates. Learn about the history of how wine was introduced to the area and sample a delicious selection.
General tours to Robben Island usually depart every day. With a rich 500 year, multi-layered history, the island is visited every year by thousands of people, who learn about important aspects of South Africa’s history.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), is located in a converted grain silo, overlooking the Atlantic on the Victoria and Alfred waterfront. The institution has 100 galleries spread over nine floors and the exhibitions focus exclusively on 21st-century work from Africa and the diaspora.
For history-buffs, take a wander through South Africa’s oldest building, the Castle of Good Hope. The magnificent building contains displays of historical and military paraphernalia, an art collection, a restaurant as well as a history of the castle itself.
Essential country information
|Pretoria (Executive), Bloemfontein (Judicial), Cape Town (Legislative)
|Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Tswana
|South African Rand (ZAR)
Weather and climate:
South Africa is generally temperate, however due to varied topography and oceanic influence, a great variety of climatic zones exist. This ranges from the extreme desert of the Namib (northwest South Africa), to the subtropical climate along the Mozambique border and the Indian Ocean (eastern South Africa). Winters in South Africa occur between June and August.
In Cape Town, the summers are warm, dry, and mostly clear; the winters are long, cool, wet, and partly cloudy. It is windy year round and common to see windsurfers enjoying the surf. Over the course of the year, the temperature in Cape Town typically varies from 48°F (9°C) to 76°F (24°C). The warm season in Cape Town usually ranges from December through March and the coldest months are June through September.
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