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Our Occupational Therapist extraordinaire, Kristin Beare is back again answering more questions you may not even know you had!

Q: I’m still unsure as to what an Occupational Therapist (OT) does. Will he/she help me find employment?

A: One of the most common misconceptions about Occupational Therapy is that it exclusively focuses on helping people find jobs.  It is true that occupational therapy can play an important role in returning to work after injury or illness, however to an OT “occupation” refers to much more than just your chosen career. Occupation encompasses everything that you do in your day-to-day life. For example, you may have occupations as a parent or spouse, a student, a hockey player, or an amateur home cook. Our occupations are what define us and the ability to participate in them in meaningful ways is essential to our well-being.

Q: So, how can an OT help me? 

A: OTs are interested in the interactions between the person, their environments, and their occupations, across the lifespan. Our aim is to help our clients:

  • function at the highest possible level,
  • maintain or restore their independence, and
  • participate in their everyday activities of life.

Unfortunately, there are sometimes barriers that make these things difficult to do on your own.  Some of these barriers may include: an onset, progression, or relapse of illness or disability, changes in physical or cognitive functioning as a result of normal aging, environmental factors, social isolation, or economic status.

An OT can help you address these barriers, through interventions that focus on:

  • enhancing existing skills;
  • creating opportunities;
  • promoting wellness;
  • remediating or restoring skills, and
  • modifying or adapting the environment or activity (AOTA, 2013).

Occupational therapy is client-driven, meaning that you are an active participant in all aspects of therapy. Your OT will be there to collaborate, empathize, instruct, problem-solve, encourage, and advocate for you.

Q: What can I expect during my initial consultation with an OT? 

A: During the initial consultation with your OT, she will want to get to know as much about you as possible and will ask you a series of questions about your current occupational performance and areas of strengths and of concern, covering all areas of function: self-care (e.g. personal care, mobility, dressing), productivity (i.e. work, school, homemaking, volunteering), and leisure.

Therapy goals will also be set out collaboratively between you and your OT during this initial session. Based upon your goals and unique situation, an appropriate treatment plan will be determined. This may include regular or semi-regular sessions, functional assessment(s), an in-home assessment, or outings within the community.

If you are struggling engaging in any of the meaningful occupations of your daily life, I would love to hear from you and discuss how Occupational Therapy may help you live a more independent, productive, and satisfying life! Contact us today!

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