An Occupational Therapist is a university-trained health professional. Their role is to maximise a client’s independence, safety and quality of life by minimising the impact of the client’s impairments and building on their strengths and skills. This is done by assessing and addressing the barriers raised by disease, injury, development and ageing. OTs often use education and rehabilitation to develop a person’s performance in everyday activities. This is what we refer to as ‘occupation’.

Occupational Therapy is a health profession concerned with promoting the health and well-being of individuals through occupation. The term occupation refers to activities of everyday life including work, play/leisure and self-care. The primary goal of Occupational Therapy is to enable individuals to participate in occupation by enhancing their abilities or modifying the environment to better support participation. Occupational Therapists believe that participation can be supported or restricted by social, physical and legislative factors. Therefore, Occupational Therapy practice is often directed to changing aspects of the environment to enhance participation in occupation for either individuals or groups of people.

Clients of Occupational Therapists are actively involved in the therapeutic process. Therefore the outcomes of Occupational Therapy are diverse, client-driven and measured by participation and or client satisfaction with participation in activities of everyday life.

Below is a compliation of definitions and descriptions that capture the essence of Occupational Therapy.

Occupational Therapy is a profession concerned with promoting health and well-being through occupation. The primary goal of Occupational Therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational Therapists achieve this outcome by enabling people to do things that will enhance their ability to participate or by modifying the environment to better support participation. Occupational Therapists have a broad education that equips them with the skills and knowledge to work collaboratively with individuals or groups of people who have an impairment of body structure or function due to a health condition, and those who experience barriers to participation. Occupational Therapists believe that participation can be supported or restricted by physical, social, attitudinal or legislative environments. Therefore, Occupational Therapy practice may be directed to changing aspects of the environment to enhance participation. Occupational Therapy is practiced in a wide range of settings (… and) clients are actively involved in the therapeutic process, and outcomes of Occupational Therapy are diverse, client-driven and measured in terms of participation or satisfaction derived from participation.” (WFOT, 2004).

Occupational Therapy is the “therapeutic use of self-care, work and play (leisure) activities to increase independent function, enhance development and prevent disability. May include adaptation of task or environment to achieve maximum independence and quality of life.” (Hopkins & Smith, 1993).

Occupational Therapy is an allied health profession associated with assisting individuals of all ages to achieve their chosen occupational roles in the community in the areas of self-care, mobility, work and leisure. To overcome deficits related to physical, intellectual and psychosocial function.” (Curtin University of Technology, School of Occupational Therapy, Staff Member, 2000).

Occupational Therapy involves “improving the lives of those who may otherwise have barriers to leading a fulfilling lifestyle.” (2nd Year Occupational Therapy Student, 2000).