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  • Writer's picturerhayalynn


Updated: Feb 14, 2020

Occupational therapy is a profession that causes some general confusion. Let me save you time spent googling by providing a few general definitions:

With a quick search of occupational therapy on google, you'll find this:

"Occupational therapy (OT) is the use of assessment and intervention to develop, recover, or maintain the meaningful activities, or occupations, of individuals, groups, or communities."

Oh, but I thought OT's helped people get jobs, learn how to use a wheelchair, and transfer after an injury?

In the physical medicine realm, yes. However, you'll also find:

"Mental health is a component of all occupational therapy interventions. Occupational therapy practitioners provide mental health treatment and prevention services for children, youth, the aging, and those with severe and persistent mental illness, with a focus on function and independence."

So what do OT's in mental health actually do?

The following are examples of how the knowledge and skill base of occupational therapy is used in the process of assisting individuals in all phases of mental health recovery:

  • Teach and support the active use of coping strategies to help manage symptoms of illness on one’s life, including being more organized and able to engage in activities of choice

  • Help to identify and implement habits, rituals, and routines to support a wellness lifestyle by addressing barriers and building on existing abilities

  • Support the identification of personal values, needs, and goals to enable informed, realistic decision making

  • Support the creation and use of a wellness recovery action plan in group or individual sessions

  • Provide information on how to monitor physical health concerns, develop strategies to control chronic symptoms, and recognize and respond to acute changes in mental health status

  • Support the ability to engage in long-term planning that leads to meeting personal recovery goals

Further examples of occupational therapy interventions in community mental health:

  • Evaluate and adapt the environment at home, work, school, and other environments to promote an individual's optimal functioning

  • Provide educational programs, experiential learning, and treatment groups or classes to address assertiveness, self-awareness, interpersonal and social skills, stress management, and role development (e.g., parenting)

  • Work with clients to develop leisure or avocational interests and pursuits

  • Facilitate the development of skills needed for independent living such as using community resources, managing one's home, managing time, managing medication, and being safe at home and in the community

  • Consult with employers regarding appropriate accommodations as required by the country's respective Disabilities Act

  • Provide guidance and consultation to persons in all employment settings, including supportive employment

  • Provide evaluation and treatment for sensory processing deficits

In summary, what makes occupational therapy unique is the emphasis on supporting clients in finding meaning, inspiration, and engagement with life. This is simply a brief overview; if you have any questions about OT and/or mental health, please do reach out to me!

Until next time,

Rhaya Lynn


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