Occupational therapy is an allied health profession. This term is used to refer to the wide range of professional groups that work in mainstream health care. Other examples of allied health professionals include physiotherapists, radiographers, speech and language therapists, and podiatrists.
Occupational therapists are required to train at degree level and register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The HCPC was set up by the government to ensure the safety of the public and continuing professional development of its members.
Occupational therapists are concerned with human occupation in its widest sense. They believe that people have an intrinsic drive to be active and express themselves via occupations and activities. Occupational therapists understand that occupations contribute to a person’s sense of identity and place in society. Take a moment to have a think about all the roles and occupations that make up your life, you may be a parent, or partner, you may be studying at college or working your way up the career ladder, you may be into exercising and keeping fit or you may be leading a hippy lifestyle!
Whatever, your life choices, it is likely that these roles and occupations give your life direction. For example, think about the range of activities that you do in any week, you will find that most of what you do, is related to your life roles and choice of occupations. This is because we do what is meaningful to us and what is necessary (ironing is likely to fall into the latter category!).
The body and the mind require activity in order to maintain functioning. Through the activities that you do, you develop skills and get to practice them, interact with other people, learn to adapt, meet basic human needs and convey whom you are. Activities are the things that you do in order to work towards your goals.
It is understood that if your routines are disrupted or you are deprived of occupation because of physical illness, stress or mental-ill health, your health and well-being will suffer. Occupational therapists help people whose usual and important routines are disrupted because of illness, stress or social problems. Their aim is to enable people to achieve as much as they can for themselves, so they get the most out of life. Occupational therapists work on any occupational difficulties and in this way are experienced life coaches.
I am an NHS experienced occupational therapist and have worked with people with mental-health difficulties of all types, using a range of mental health therapy techniques. Occupational therapists are skilled at empowering individuals with depression, anxiety, OCD and stress to become re-engaged with life and to feel confident again.
During occupational therapy sessions, I am able to accompany you out into the community to carry out work with you on tasks related to facing fears e.g. graded exposure tasks. This support is very useful for people overcoming agoraphobia or social phobia. I can also support you in getting back to work and finding other meaningful activities such as voluntary work.