What is Occupational Therapy?

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapists concluded from research and findings that there is a relationship between occupation, health and well-being. There exist several physiological and functional outcomes, showing the performance in everyday occupations is an important part of everyday life. Withdrawal or changes in occupation have a significant impact on an individual’s self-perceived health and well-being. Find more info here.

The Definition

According to the definition given by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (1989), Occupational therapy entails the treatment of physical and psychiatric conditions by applying specific techniques to help people reach their maximum level of function and independence.


The Goal

To enable the client to achieve a satisfying and productive life by developing such skills that will allow him to function at a satisfactory level. Occupational therapy focuses upon what is important for an individual to achieve rather than aiming for normality, conformity or desired professional opinions.

The Six Elements

These six elements reflect a consensus in the profession:

1. Occupational performance – occupational therapists concentrate on how individuals perform in their work, leisure and personal self-care. Occupational performance of an individual becomes disrupted or impaired if he becomes unwell, either physically or psychologically. They work with these individuals who are experiencing some difficulty in their daily life functioning.

2. Importance of being active – being active helps us understand ourselves, develop skills and maintain our physical & mental health.

3. Therapeutic use of activities – occupational therapy uses activities in the treatment valuing the activities inherent properties, the experience of ‘doing’ the activity and the outcome. Occupational therapists make use of  two main types of activities- activities of daily living (like cooking or washing) and specifically orientated therapy activities (such as group work). Treatment entails grading and adapting the activity enabling the patient to achieve an optimum level of performance and satisfaction.

4. Problem-solving process – the occupational therapy process starts from assessment, then the treatment plan, implementation of treatment plan and lastly the evaluation.

5. Holistic gaze – occupational therapists aim to attend to emotional, cognitive, social and physical aspects of the person, viewing and treating individuals as complex, whole beings.

 6. Unique individuals – all individuals are seen as unique and so, each one requires his or her own individualized treatment program.

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