Occupational Therapy

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy helps you live your best life at home, at work – and everywhere else. It’s about being able to do the things you want and have to do. That could mean helping you overcome challenges learning at school, going to work, playing sport or simply doing the dishes. Everything is focused on your wellbeing and your ability to participate in activities.

It’s also a science-based, health and social care profession that’s regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council.

Our aim is to identify the activities that a child wants or needs to do and consider strategies to make these occupations easier for the young person and/or the adults who support them.

What is an “Occupation”?

An occupation is any activity that we need, want or like to do to live and to look after our physical and mental health, and our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. We do occupations from the moment we’re born, on our own or with others.

Occupation isn’t just your job or activities of daily living. An occupation can be self-care, such as washing, eating or sleeping; productive, such as work, study, caring or domestic activities; and leisure, such as playing sports, hobbies or socialising.

We’re all different and so are the occupations that matter to us. They vary depending on our environment, interests and values, talents and skills. Our occupations also change throughout our lives.

Self-Care and Independence Skills
School, Nursery or College Skills
Leisure and Community Skills

How can an Occupational Therapist support us?

An occupational therapist helps people of all ages overcome challenges completing everyday tasks or activities – what we call ‘occupations’.

Occupational therapists see beyond diagnoses and limitations to hopes and aspirations. They look at relationships between the activities you do every day – your occupations – alongside the challenges you face as an individual and your environment.

Then, they create a plan of goals and adjustments targeted at achieving a specific set of activities. The plan is practical, realistic and personal to you as an individual, to help you achieve the breakthroughs you need to elevate your everyday life.

This support can give people a renewed sense of purpose. It can also open up new opportunities and change the way people feel about the future.

The Person

Considering the elements that make up a person such as the child’s individual needs, diagnosis, cultural background, personality, health, cognition, physical performance, and sensory capabilities.

The Environment

This may include things in the physical environment including aspects such as lighting and noise and consider obstacles that may prevent a young person from moving around their home, school or community. We may also consider the social environment too for example, other children within a classroom or family members or siblings at home.

The Occupation

We will then consider the task itself – How is it done? What is the duration of the activity? How complex is the task? How can it be altered or adapted? Is there another way? For example, by using a different pen, allowing more time, using visual aids or by adapting their routine.

Want to know more?

For more information about the role of occupational therapy for children and young people, take a look at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists website.

Page Last Reviewed: 26/03/2024

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