What is Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy provides practical support to empower people to facilitate recovery and overcome barriers preventing them from doing the activities (or occupations) that matter to them. This support increases people's independence and satisfaction in all aspects of life.

"Occupation" as a term refers to practical and purposeful activities that allow people to live independently and have a sense of identity. This could be essential day-to-day tasks such as self-care, work or leisure.

Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement.

5 Key Features of Occupational Therapy

  1. The unique focus of Occupational Therapy is on the person's occupation. Occupational therapists use the term occupation to describe all the things we do to take care of ourselves and others; socialize and have fun; and work and contribute to society.
  2. Occupational therapists understand how illness, injury, disability or challenging life events can affect people's ability to do the day-to-day things that are important for them.
  3. Occupational therapists are experts at assessing how different health conditions can affect people's abilities and helping people to overcome or work around the difficulties that are affecting their daily occupations.
  4. Occupational Therapy focuses on people's strengths and therapy is always guided by the client's preferences (or those of their family in the case of children).
  5. By tailoring a programme that responds to the client's unique situation and needs Occupational Therapy helps people to live their lives in a way that is meaningful and satisfying for them.

Occupational therapists have a broad education in the health, social, psychological and occupational sciences which equips them with the attitudes, skills, and knowledge to work collaboratively with people, individually or in groups, to bring about positive life changes. Occupational therapists work with people with a wide range of health needs, including those who have an impairment of body structure or function owing to a health condition, those who are restricted in their participation or those who are socially excluded owing to their membership of cultural minority groups. Occupational therapists work in many different practice settings including hospitals, day care facilities, nursing homes, schools, universities, community centres and workplaces. Many also work in private practice and provide occupational therapy in the client's home or residential setting.