What Is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapists (OT’s) may ask, “What matters to you?” rather than, “What’s the matter with you?”

OT’s help people of all ages participate in the things they want and need to do, through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Occupational Therapy interventions include:

  • Helping children with special needs to participate fully in school and social situations,
  • Helping people recovering from injury to regain skills
  • Providing support for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.

Occupational therapy services typically include: 

  • An assessment evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals.
  • Customised intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals, and
  • An outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan.
  • Services may include evaluations of the clients home and other environments (e.g., workplace, school), recommendations for adaptive equipment and training in its use, and guidance and education for family members and caregivers.

    Occupational Therapists have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team.

    What do Occupational Therapists do?


    • Helping children achieve their developmental milestones such as fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
    • Educating and involving parents, carers and others to facilitate the normal development and learning of children.

    Rehabilitation and aged care:

    • Helping clients regain or enhance their daily lives after specific events such as hip replacement or stroke.
    • Assessing and modifying clients home and community environments to improve their safety and independence.
    • Prescribing and educating clients and carers in the use of adaptive equipment to assist function.

    Acute care:

    • Specialist interventions in various health conditions including surgery, burns, HIV and acute mental health.
    • Assessing clients’ cognition, function and psychosocial needs.
    • Monitoring clients’ function and progress, prescribing adaptive equipment to ensure safety upon discharge from hospitals.