Defining my role
2a: What is an Occupational Therapist?
Sometimes when I meet people, whether it is clients, or even other health professionals they ask me, compared to other health professions, what is so unique about Occupational Therapy? Also, by a client being treated by an Occupational Therapist, what the benefits would they receive?

Furthermore, there can questions as Occupational Therapy can be perceived as quite a broad profession, which is evident as it has undergone many changes over the years, and as a result this can be problematic to define it (Punwar, 2000).
• A contributing factor may be the diverse range of practice settings, which an Occupational Therapist can be found, although this is also evident for such health professionals as nurses, and physiotherapists.
• Also for an Occupational Therapist, more so than other health professions, this change between the contexts of physical, and mental health, can be very different in the way there skills are utilised.

The process of ‘doing’
Although for an Occupational Therapist whilst a defined professional identity is important, it is more so to meet the diverse nature of their clients’ needs with the knowledge and skills, which may not always be practice setting specific as addressed a holistic view is taken consider all the contributing factors (Kielhofner, 2009). The significance of this, is that the primary goal of an Occupational Therapist is defined as to enable clients’ to be participate in the activities of daily living by enhancing their ability to engage in the occupations, either by modifying the parameters of the activities themselves, or the environment in order to greater there level occupational engagement (WFOT, 2010).

Furthermore this is defined as ‘Occupation’ the process of ‘doing’, that a client’s is engagement in goal-orientated activities which for them hold meaning also as a result contribute towards reducing physical, and psychosocial dysfunction to restore function to more normal level (Punwar, 2000). In short, Occupational Therapists believe that the participation in meaningful activities can aid a client’s recovery and enhance their wellbeing which has relevance whatever the practice setting.

Example 1 (Physical)
In a physical setting with a client returning home following a total hip replacement surgery:
• The focus for the Occupational Therapist would be the client’s capacity to engage in everyday activities with the use of adaptations in their home such as a bed lever to get in/out of bed.
• Furthermore, for the Occupational Therapist to give practical guidance on hip precautions with the strategies to overcoming the type of restrictive movement this condition would incur.
• Also to take a more holistic view, by devising strategies with the client/family to overcome those barriers posed by carrying out daily routines, such as self care (washing and dressing), meal preparation (also a cup of tea/light snack), access to amenities (shops, and local community).
• Finally in short, to ease this transition of the client returning home with the least amount discomfort, and to enhance their own sense of wellbeing to facilitate a successful recovery.

Example 2 (Mental health)
In a mental health setting with a client returning home following a stay in hospital, although the physical aspects may be address if they prove relevant to a successful transition, there is more of:
• A focus by the Occupational Therapist on the client’s emotional wellbeing as they interact with their home/family/local community.
• Furthermore to address those psychological aspects with the client to devise strategies that may be preventing them from participating effectively in their everyday life, such as structuring their daily routine/taking medication.
• Also there level of engagement in meaningful activities for their therapeutic qualities, enhancing their own sense of wellbeing, and as a result for the client to be less preoccupied with their condition which may be detrimental to a successful recovery.
• And finally in short which is same as the physical example, to ease this transition of the client returning home with the least amount discomfort, and to enhance their own sense of wellbeing to facilitate a successful recovery.

In conclusion, the role for the Occupational Therapist with both examples is to support the client to overcome those barriers in the transition of returning home either posed by the activities themselves or their environment by enabling the participation in meaningful activities to enhance their health, wellbeing to support daily living.


Kielhofner, G (2009) The Kind of Knowledge Needed to Support Practice in Conceptual Foundations of Occupational Therapy Practice. F. A. Davis Company: Philadelphia, USA

Punwar, A. J. (2000) Occupational Therapy: Principles and Practice. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

World Federation of Occupational Therapy (2010) Statement on Occupational Therapy Available at: %20THERAPY%20300811.pdf (Accessed 07/07/2015)