All you need to know about Occupational Therapy

Many people have told me that when they think of Occupational Therapy they think about seating or housing adaptations rather than mental health. However, Occupational Therapy is a really diverse profession. We work with people with all sorts of diagnoses or none.

A balance of occupations

Occupational Therapy is about supporting people to be able to do what they want to or need to do as part of their daily lives. Occupational Therapists generally think about occupations as falling under three categories. These are:

  1. Self-care
  2. Productivity
  3. Leisure

Everyone will categorise what they do differently. For example, one person may view cooking as something they have to do for self-care, where as another person may view it as a leisure activity. For a chef, cooking most likely falls under the productivity category. They key thing is that each of us has a balance in our range of activities, however we view them.

It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness.

Thomas Jefferson

Occupational Therapists believe that engaging in meaningful occupations can positively impact health and wellbeing. Conversely, not being able to do the things that are important to us has a negative impact. However, to be able to ‘perform’ an activity or occupation is not always straightforward. It involves a dynamic interplay between the person themselves, the environment they are operating within and the activity they are carrying out.

Person, Environment, Occupation

As a person, there are many components which can affect what we do. Our mood (affect), our cognitive abilities (including executive functioning) and our physical capacity (including energy levels) all play a role. Our environment includes things like the physical space we operate in, the social support around us and our culture and cultural background.

When you work with an Occupational Therapist, we will look at what occupations you would like to be able carry out. We will analyse what might be preventing you from doing this, taking into account the person, the environment and the occupation itself. The Occupational Therapist will then look to adapt or change some or all of these things to enable you to do what you want to do. This could include teaching new skills or strategies, adapting the activity itself or making changes to the environment.

If you would like to talk about how Occupational Therapy could support you, then please get in touch.