Occupational therapists use activities and occupations that are meaningful to positively influence our health and wellbeing.
The aim of occupational therapy is to help a person function to the best of their ability throughout daily life. This leads to a better quality of life, improved health and wellbeing, and an increase in self-reliance/capability.
What does it involve?
The London College of Occupational Therapists define Occupational Therapy as a complex intervention (Creek, 2003).
Occupational therapy involves skilled assessment of a person’s ability to participate in all activities necessary for a meaningful daily life, the demands of his/her occupations, and the demands of the environment.
It also involves the subsequent use and promotion of “doing” or engagement in activity for maintenance or improvement of function as well as access to opportunities for participation.
Participation in activity is used as the assessment tool and also as carefully reasoned and agreed intervention in order to achieve a satisfying balance of occupations in three areas:
All of which support recovery, health, wellbeing and social participation.
During the occupational therapy process the therapist shifts his or her focus of attention from occupation, to activity, to task, to skill and back again. This shift of perspective happens many times during an intervention.
The therapist formulates problems at different levels, as occupational imbalance, occupational performance deficits, activity limitation, task performance problems, or skills deficits.
Intervention involves analysing, selecting, synthesising, adapting, grading and applying activities for specific therapeutic purposes.
Outcome goals are expressed on different levels, from developing skills, through performing tasks and engaging in activities, to performing occupations and enabling social participation.
The occupational therapy knowledge base incorporates theories of occupation, biological sciences, developmental theory, medical and psychiatric theory, psychology and sociology.
Theories of occupation include: the nature, classification and functions of occupations, the evolution and ontogenesis of occupations; the occupational brain; occupational role theory; occupational form and performance; occupational behaviour; occupational choice, and the relationship between occupation and health.
Who can deliver this therapy?
Occupational therapy is a therapy that can only be delivered by a qualified occupational therapist who is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as an occupational therapist. An occupational therapist will have studied for a minimum of three years in order to be able to deliver this therapy.
Clinical supervision of the therapy provided is provided by another occupational therapist who is trained to provide this therapy.
Where and how does occupational therapy take place?
Occupational therapy can be delivered on a one to one basis, or the therapist may suggest a group depending on the skills/abilities a person needs to experience practice and develop.
It is delivered in the broadest variety of settings, linked to the activities and occupations a person has negotiated to work on. Often this begins within the home environment, however any setting suited to your need and linked to the purpose of therapy is used.
What can occupational therapy help with?
- Independence in the home and community
- Developing a healthy lifestyle
- Managing your time
- Expressing yourself through activities
- Increasing your motivation
- Improving your quality of life
- Meeting people and developing social networks
- Accessing community resources and leisure activities
- Learning how to cope with stress and manage symptoms through the things you do
- Developing coping skills linked to “doing”
- Problem solving/decision making
- Developing confidence and self-esteem – helping you feel more able
- Developing skills to look for employment or return to work
- Accessing support for your health and wellbeing needs
- The use of specialist adaptive equipment if necessary
People who use occupational therapy services report the following benefits:
- Keeping well
- Feeling and being productive
- Increased self-worth and dignity
- Reduced social isolation
- Feeling invigorated and happy linked to occupations that have no other tangible benefit such as singing or dancing
- Feeling and being creative
- Having a structure to the day
- Moving towards or gaining employment (with or without payment)
- Being and doing with others ‘talking together’,’ learning together’ – belonging
- Helping to create an ordinary routine
- Developing skills and confidence
- Being more physically active
Real Life Experience
If you’d like to share your real life experience, please email [email protected] for more information.