Occupational Therapy can help if your ill health interferes with your ability to do the activities necessary for living your life. We work (with you) on your functioning in areas of everyday life such as taking care of yourself and your family, carrying out paid or unpaid work, or participating in leisure activities. Therapy can help you to deal with the challenges of mental ill health and still lead a full life.
How do Occupational Therapists (OTs) work?
People work with OTs in many different ways
- OTs can suggest new ways of doing activities (occupations).
- You can work with the OT to find new occupations to bring you more satisfaction.
- An OT can help set priorities and/or organise activities or to find the right balance of work, leisure and self-care activities for you.
- You can work with the OT to improve some of the basic skills necessary to do activities.
- An OT can help you make the best use of your abilities and resources
- Occupational therapy can also be very helpful when health difficulties make achieving life's milestones (e.g. moving out of home, starting a job etc,) a little more complicated.
Your OT will help you to work out what steps to take in order to achieve your goals. You may work with your therapist to build your skills and to use your resources to get back on your feet following an illness. Alternatively, you may use OT to find new ways to compensate for more persistent difficulties. Many people wish to resume the life they lead before they encountered a mental health difficulty, others may wish to try something new.
How do I get an appointment with an OT?
Usually, you will be referred by your doctor, key worker or any member of the multidisciplinary team.
What is involved?
The first visit usually takes an hour and will probably be either in the community mental health centre or in your own home. The occupational therapist will talk to you about how your mental health difficulties affect your daily life. She or he will be interested in your strengths and the resources you have in overcoming your difficulties.
Depending on the area of difficulty, an occupational therapist may also wish to observe you doing some of the activities that you wish to work on or do some formal assessment of the basic skills necessary to do these tasks (this is usually at a later appointment).
Assessment and therapy focus on the area that is most important to you e.g. if you wish to enter employment for the first time the OT may do thorough assessment of your employment, education and training needs; if you wish to return home following a long stint in hospital or therapy may include outline steps necessary to do this and accessing whatever supports and resources are available. If you wish to reconnect with your community OT will work on finding different ways of becoming involved.
How long does therapy last?
OTs work for brief or long periods depending on need and available resources.
Do I need to bring anything to my first appointment?
No (usually). If you do need anything you will be informed before your appointment.
Can I bring someone with me?
Yes, if you wish.
Is there a waiting time?
There can be a waiting period at times.
What should I do if I can't make an Occupational Therapy appointment?
Please contact your therapist so that your appointment time can be given to another person.
Do Occupational Therapists work with Carers?
If a carer is responsible for your wellbeing the OT will work with them (with your permission), the OT can help you and your carer find practical ways around every day living skill difficulties.