‘A simple of definition of Occupational therapy is that it helps people engage as independently as possible in the activities (occupations) which enhance their health and wellbeing
Occupational therapists, with the assistance of OT support staff, help people of all ages who have physical, mental or social problems as a result of accident, illness or ageing, to do the things they want to do. These could be daily activities that many of us take for granted, from grocery shopping or brushing your teeth, to more complex activities such as caring for children, succeeding in studies or work, or maintaining a healthy social life.’
(College of Occupational Therapists, UK)
Earlier this year I undertook a study visit to the US to find out more about an OT approach developed at the University of Southern California. Using the Lifestyle Redesign® approach in OT very much fits with this definition, in particular it makes explicit the health-promoting aspects of meaningful occupation and the positive impact this has on health and well-being.
Because OTs work in such diverse areas, it is often difficult for others to understand what OT really is. I’d like to share with you a recent blog post by Dr Florence Clark, AOTA President and Associate Dean of the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy where a spent my study visit. She offers 20 ‘sound bites’ to explain what OT is. Follow this link to read Dr Clark’s blog, meanwhile, here are a few of my favourites:
‘OT practitioners can help older people maintain their independence by customizing a daily living plan for them and adding design elements to their homes. Just as there is no diet that fits everyone, there is no plan that guarantees independence for everyone. What OT practitioners do is customized life design.’
‘Occupational therapy practitioners are like engineers, trained in multi-faceted educational content. We rebuild broken lives which requires not only preparation in biomedical conditions, but also in the theories of health behavior and activity participation.’
‘When catastrophic illness or disability occurs, walking may stop but life goes on. Occupational therapy practitioners help people get back to life, to family, to work, and to the community in order to “live life to its fullest” no matter what.’