Occupational therapy provides support to people whose health or disability makes it hard for them to do the things they would like to do. An occupational therapist can identify your strengths and difficulties, help with solutions, and help you to take part in everyday life.
What is occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy is used when someone is having difficulty with everyday tasks, that is, the tasks that occupy them. An occupational therapist can identify their strengths and difficulties, such as dressing or getting to the shops, and will help them work out practical solutions. They are often called OTs.
If you see an OT, they can help you maintain, regain or improve your independence by using different techniques, changing your environment and using new equipment.
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
- work or school
- social activities
- 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:
- help you, or someone you know, after an accident or illness, or who has a disability or mental illness
- work with children such as those with learning difficulties
- develop strategies to help with a disability or mental health issues
- help improve your confidence in social situations
Will occupational therapy benefit me?
OTs are helpful to many different people, old and young. Your doctor, nurse or other health or social care professional can help decide if it might be suitable for your needs.
Am I eligible for occupational therapy?
Your doctor can help you decide whether an OT might help you, and can provide a referral.
Search for occupational therapists online through the healthdirect service finder.
Cost of occupational therapy
The fees charged by OTs vary. Check before you start.
Medicare covers fees in certain circumstances, but only if your doctors refers you.
If you have private health insurance, check whether or not OT is covered, and to what extent.
Occupational Therapy Australia has more information.
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Last reviewed: April 2020