What is Occupational Therapy - Lauren Crozier-More

What is Occupational Therapy is and how it can help?

Occupational Therapy aka (OT) for short.

Firstly I want to start by talking about some common misconceptions about Occupational Therapy that it occupies people's time, entertains people with activities or it’s like a Physiotherapist or helps people to find jobs?

My answer is, well it could include this.

Occupational Therapy is a 3 year science base degree, Occupational Therapist are regulated by the health and professions council (HCPC) in the united kingdom. 

Occupational Therapist can work across life span from birth to end of life. Commonly, we work with individuals who have difficulties as a result of mental, physical or learning disability or impairment. However, we can work with anyone. Occupational Therapist work in within a range of settings and sectors and this continues to evolve. The most common areas are across health and social care, housing, education, voluntary, military, private, within homes, hospitals, schools, care home, day services, as an outpatient, paediatrics and the list goes on. I love my profession due to its diversity and adaptability. 

We generally specialise our careers in a specific area. Take mine for example within private healthcare, inpatient hospital settings and private practice within mental health with children, young people, and young adults.

The goal of Occupational Therapy is to promote health and wellbeing of an individual. It is essentially about optimising the living in life and helping individuals to reach their potential.

what occupational therapy looks like - flow chart - therapy consultancy solutions

Occupational Therapist are unique in the way we provide therapy. Our therapy is holistic, person centred and always individualised to the person. It is very practical and focused on engaging individuals “doing”, and integrates meaningful occupations into treatment. 

What is meaningful occupations? Occupational Therapist believe meaningful occupations are an individual’s interests and practical activities that occupy their time. Occupations literally includes everything and anything that we do in our day-to day life. Every moment of your day, believe it or not you are engaging in an occupation, from the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep. Think about how much you do in a day, its  A LOT right? 

We acknowledge that there are so many factors that supports us to do the things we need or want to do. We analyse the complex interplay between internal and external systems. We explore how these factors support you or inhibit you from doing. 

We look at what makes you, YOU. 

-What motivates you?

-What is meaningful to you, what’s your interests?

-What are your strengths? 

-How do you communicate and interact? 

-What are your roles, responsibilities, routines, habits?

-What are your beliefs and values, cultures, traditions?

-What’s your physical, motor function looks like? 

-What is your cognitive function looks like?

-What is environment look like including, the physical, social and more recently virtual contexts

-What is your life experiences? Do they have impact on you now?

We work with individuals to learn and/or rebuild necessary skills for participation in activities and tasks that they need or would like to do. 

Think about your life, what would you do if you could not do want or needed to?
Take for example if you had anxiety that sent you into panic going shopping or when interacting with friends or could not brushing your teeth due loss of hand function. 

We often take for granted the things we can do, until we have difficulties doing them, right? 

Consider how would it make you feel and how could it impact on your quality of life? Could it make you feel Isolated, low in mood, lacking friends or unclean and contribute to further dental issues. 

What would happen if you did nothing about this, could it improve or worsen your health and wellbeing? 

Can help overcome barriers to challenges you face? Who would support you to develop or maintain your independence and life satisfaction? 

An Occupational Therapist, Occupational Therapy can.

Let me give you some examples what Occupational can look like in the context in which I work. Mental health, young people, and young adults. 

-Teaching sensory strategies to support a young person manage their arousal levels. 

-Engaging in play based activities to build connection and attachment.

-Teaching interoception awareness through activity to support them to identify physiological sensations linked to emotion.

-Supporting a young person to improve communication and interaction through use of activity and visual tools.

-Coaching young people in practical strategies and steps whilst engaged in the doing to support them to overcome a particular difficulty e.g. anxiety. 

-Grading a task or activity into chunks or adapting it to support making this feel more manageable for the young person. 

-Teaching a young person more helpful ways to cope with emotion through use of activity. 

Occupational Therapists support individuals to their increase identity, competence or adapt to the challenges they face. 

Occupational Therapist don’t just solve people’s difficulties in a therapy room, we solve real life difficulties, and teach in application of it in day-to-day life. We help individuals reach their potential and live their life to the fullest. 

therapy and consultancy solutions banner images activities27

A visual representation of what we look at when we support individuals.
Model of human Occupational (MOHO) by G.Kielhofner. (c04f002.gif (1313×704) (neupsykey.com) 

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