Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Occupational therapy

4-minute read

Key facts

  • Occupational therapy can help if you are having difficulty with everyday tasks — that is, the tasks that occupy you.
  • An occupational therapist (an ‘OT’) can help you maintain, regain, or improve your independence using different techniques and equipment.
  • OTs work with people of all ages and social groups.
  • Your OT will ask about your daily activities and help you find ways to function more effectively and confidently.
  • If your doctor refers you to an OT, Medicare or other government schemes may cover some of the cost.

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy can help when someone is having difficulty with everyday tasks (the tasks that ‘occupy’ them). An occupational therapist (also known as an ‘OT’) can identify your strengths and any difficulties — such as dressing or getting to the shops. They can then help you work out practical solutions.

An OT can help you maintain, regain or improve your independence. Your OT may suggest different techniques, changing your environment or using new equipment to help you achieve your goals.

OTs work with people of any age, including children and older people, to help them do things that ‘occupy’ their time. These can include:

  • looking after yourself (self-care)
  • work or school
  • social activities
  • hobbies
  • being part of your community

OTs must have a degree in occupational therapy and be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA). You can check if an OT is registered on the AHPRA website.

What does an occupational therapist do?

OTs do many things. They might:

Will occupational therapy benefit me?

OTs are helpful to people in many different age and social groups. Your doctor or allied health professional can help you decide if occupational therapy might be suitable for your needs.

Am I eligible for occupational therapy?

Your doctor can help you decide whether you might benefit from OT and can provide a referral.

Search for occupational therapists online through the healthdirect service finder.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

How much does occupational therapy cost?

The costs for seeing an occupational therapist vary. If your doctor refers you an occupational therapist, Medicare may cover some of the cost. You may also be eligible for a rebate under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) or other government schemes. Ask your doctor or visit Services Australia to find out about your eligibility.

If you have private health insurance, your insurer might cover some of the cost. It’s a good idea to check with your private health insurer before your appointment.

Where can I find more information?

Visit Occupational Therapy Australia to find out more about occupational therapy and if it can help you.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2022

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

What is occupational therapy? | Autism: What next?

Another common early intervention suggestion is for children to visit an occupational therapist. For many parents, they are not sure why. Occupational Therapy Australia helps us understand how it all works.

Read more on Autism Awareness Australia website

Occupational therapist: family guide | Raising Children Network

Occupational therapists help children do things like eating, dressing and going to school. Children with disability and additional needs often work with OTs.

Read more on website

MindSpot Teletherapy Course

Speak directly with a qualified MindSpot therapist who are registered psychologists, accredited social workers, registered nurses, registered occupational therapists, or counsellors.

Read more on MindSpot Clinic website

Aids & Equipment Make Life Easier | Musculoskeletal Australia

Make your life easier by using aids & equipment. Find out how we at MSK Australia can help you manage your condition, pain & improve your life function.

Read more on Musculoskeletal Australia website

Daily routine & self-care services | Novita

Helping children to improve their daily living skills To be successful in using these skills, there may be special requirements for children with disability and their families

Read more on Novita Services website

Managing Daily Life - How to Care - Patients and Carers - Community

Accepting help as a carer can help you to cope. Caring for someone who is seriously ill can be demanding. Having help with basic tasks like shopping, housework, or gardening can help you to cope.

Read more on CareSearch website

Living with MND: Help in the Home | MND Australia | MND Australia

People living with motor neurone disease can access in-home support including home maintenance & modifications, personal care, domestic support & respite care.

Read more on MND Australia website

Therapies during school years | Autism Awareness Australia

There were only a few rebates available for allied health services like speech and occupational therapy

Read more on Autism Awareness Australia website

What is an occupational therapist? - Emerging Minds

Join Dino to find out more about what an occupational therapist can do to support you and your family in this short video.

Read more on Emerging Minds website

Ages & Stages | Novita

People’s goals and focus areas often change depending on their age

Read more on Novita Services website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.