What is Occupational Therapy (OT)?

Definition of Occupational Therapy Practice for the AOTA Model Practice Act

What Do Occupational Therapy Practitioners Do?

Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help people participate in their desired occupations with the therapeutic use of everyday activities, based on the client's personal interests and needs.

Occupational therapy (OT) considers the complex relationship between the client, the activity, and the environment in which the activity takes place. Examples of OT interventions include:

  • helping a child with a disability to participate fully in school and social situations,
  • assisting an injured worker to regain skills they need to function in their job, or
  • providing supports to older adults experiencing cognitive or physical changes.

 What do occupational therapy services include?

Services focus on the client's goals and typically include:

  • an individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals,
  • customized interventions to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals, and
  • an outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan.

OT services may also include comprehensive evaluations of the client’s home and other environments (e.g., workplace, school), recommendations for adaptive equipment and training in its use, and guidance and education for family members and caregivers.

 AOTA - 2022