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What is Occupational Therapy? Everything You Need to Know

What is Occupational Therapy? Everything You Need to Know

Last Updated: 30-03-2023

Written by :

Ms.Tanvi Jain
Clinical Psychologist
RIMS - M.Phil

Reviewed By:

Counselling Psychologist MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
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You found that your child is diagnosed with some Neuro-developmental disorder like Autism Spectrum Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, etc. Or, one day you wake up and see that your old age mother or father had met with a stroke and has lost their ability to work independently. You find yourself in a challenging situation because you cannot be with them every time for all of their tasks of daily living. For all these activities one needs to go to an Occupational Therapist.


Occupational therapy is a form of therapy included in the health care profession where individuals are helped to overcome or to manage their physical, adaptive, cognitive, and sensory disabilities. It uses certain interventions and assessments to develop a therapeutic environment for the child or the adult.

Occupational therapy is designed in a way where activities are created by keeping in mind their use in real-life settings. It doesn’t work like the other therapies where the therapist and client sit face-to-face and discuss real-life situations. Instead, it takes place in a room that is designed with some equipment that is of use for the therapy, and children or individuals are made to perform the activity by making use of this equipment.


An occupational therapist (an OT ) is a person who can help to maintain, regain, or improve independency in work and daily activities by using different techniques and equipment. OTs work with people of all ages and social groups. He is a trained professional who receives Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy. They can further go for Masters’s degree where they are specialized in specific areas like pediatrics/injuries/education, etc. After completing their Master’s degree All India Occupational Therapists Association in India considers OTists as doctors.

The OT will ask about daily activities and structure therapies in that way so that one can function effectively and confidently. An occupational therapist works systematically with a client through a sequence of actions called the occupational therapy process. All practice frameworks include the components of evaluation (or assessment), intervention, and outcomes. This process provides a framework through which occupational therapists assist and contribute to promoting health and ensures structure and consistency among therapists


Occupational Therapy is done on both children and adults who lack in their occupation, e.g., a kid’s occupation is to study and do his day-to-day activities normally. But, if they lag in these activities, occupational therapy can help.

With OT, individuals can:

  • Develop fine motor skills so they can grasp and release toys and develop good handwriting or computer skills.
  • Improve eye–hand coordination so they can play and do needed school skills such as batting a ball and copying from a blackboard.
  • Master basic life skills such as bathing, getting dressed, brushing teeth, and self-feeding.
  • Learn positive behaviors and social skills by practicing how they manage frustration and anger.
  • Get special equipment to help build their independence. These include wheelchairs, splints, bathing equipment, dressing devices, and communication aids.
  • OT can help with reducing hyperactivity among kids and also increase their sitting tendency.
  • It can help with sensory needs among Autism kids as it also includes sensory integration activities.
  • It can help with socializing among individuals who face difficulty mixing with other people.

Occupational Therapy has been seen to work majorly with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder as children get the space to manage their sensory needs and also learn to respond to name-calling and maintain eye contact. OT creates a set-up keeping in mind all that is required for individuals to learn so that they don’t face many difficulties in real-life settings.


Both physiotherapists and occupational therapists are allied health professionals. Both of the professions include knowledge and understanding of the muscular-skeletal system and the impact this has on function. However, Physiotherapy is a more medical model, where outcome-based measurements are used to determine the success of treatment. Occupational therapy, on the other hand, focuses on the link between the malfunction of component parts and the effect that has on the whole person. Occupational Therapists have a greater understanding of the link between mind, body, and soul. For example, they understand that although dysfunction of one part of the body may impact a person’s ability to complete everyday activities, it may also impact a person’s role, e.g. their ability to be a wife, mother, employed person, etc. By treating the whole person, OTs seek to improve quality of life and enable people to engage in those meaningful activities (occupations) which are important to them.

For disabilities included in ASD, ADHD, and Developmental delays it is advised to go to occupational therapists as they are more trained in working with problems of daily life. But where physical delays like balancing, walking, maintaining postures, etc. are the concern physiotherapists are required as they are more trained in body-movement activities.


  • Occupational Therapy Improves an Individual’s Independence- as it designs activities keeping daily tasks in mind.
  • Occupational Therapy Improves Strength and Endurance for Functional Tasks- because it focuses on physical activities and focuses on bodily movements using tools like a balancing board, swings, chairs, tables, etc.
  • Occupational Therapy Can Also Work on Functional Cognition and Visual Deficits- by making use of activities where eye-hand coordination and making use of objects and also supplementing with tools that enhance vision.
  • Occupational Therapists are Great at Caregiver Training- experts in helping individuals and caregivers figure out how to live life after change by making them understand what changes can be done to live better even after injury or any disability.
  • Occupational Therapists are Experts in Adaptive Equipment and Home Modifications- as they know what tools to be used to make the changes.

Occupational Therapists Offer Support- as they are trained to do so.

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