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What does an occupational therapist do?

Published 26th October, 2018
Deanne ColemanWritten by Advanced Occupational Therapist and Team Leader, Deanne Coleman.

Many people think that occupational therapists work mostly with children and adults to improve handwriting and fine motor skills. This is certainly one part of what we do – but there is also so much more!

Occupational therapists help people reach their potential and be as independent in life as they possibly can be. The work we do is as broad and as varied as everyone’s life is!

Who do occupational therapists work with?

Occupational therapists work with people of all ages and abilities to be as independent as possible in all activities of daily living. We assess and interpret where a person has difficulty completing an activity, then provide strategies to help the person carry out the task independently.

How can occupational therapists help?

Occupational therapists can support people in any area that brings meaning and purpose to their life. This could be things people need to do, want to do, or are expected to do in their daily life.

Some of the areas that occupational therapists can provide support for include:

  • Play and social skill development – learning how to play with others, share and take turns
  • Emotional and sensory regulation – learning how to regulate emotions and understand how behaviours impact on others
  • School skills – developing fine motor development such as handwriting, cutting skills, sequencing and memory
  • Self-care skills – learning how to dress, shower, go to the toilet, cook, clean and do the things you need to do to live independently
  • Feeding/eating skills – learning to use cutlery and eat independently
  • Employment – support to find a job and return to work after an injury or illness
  • Rehabilitation – learning how to do everyday activities again after a serious injury or stroke
  • Living skills – learning how to complete the daily activities required to live independently, such as cooking, cleaning and budgeting
  • Mental health – developing a sense of self-worth and confidence through counselling and group sessions

Where do occupational therapists work?

Occupational therapists work in a variety of different settings including schools, hospitals, aged-care facilities, mental health services, rehabilitation centres, employment agencies, community health centres and in private practice.

Occupational therapists often work as part of a transdisciplinary team, which means they work collaboratively with other therapists and heath professionals. At Therapy Focus, our occupational therapists work alongside speech pathologists, physiotherapists, psychologists, dietitians, behaviour support clinicians and continence nurses to help people with disability achieve their goals.

For more information about the type of support Therapy Focus occupational therapists can provide, visit our comprehensive therapy page or contact us.

An occupational therapist talking with a lady holding a handrail

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