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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


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