What is Occupational Therapy?

An OT working with a child.Occupational therapy practitioners ask, "What matters to you?" not, "What's the matter with you?"

In its simplest terms, occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Occupational therapy services typically include:

  • an individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals, 
  • customized intervention 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.

Occupational therapy services may 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. Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team. 

(American Occupational Therapy Association, https://www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy.aspx)


What can OT do for you? 


AOTA's OT Fact Sheets 

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has a number of helpful fact sheets about Occupational Therapy across the lifespan and practice settings. 

Occupational Therapy for children and youth

Occupational Therapy for adults

"What is OT?" Brochure


TNOTA's "What is OT?" Student Video Contest 2022 Winner!


Helpful OT Blogs 

Check out TNOTA's list of helpful blogs written by occupational therapy practitioners.

*TNOTA does not own content hosted on these pages. Inclusion in this list does not imply agreement with opinions expressed on these blogs. These resources are not intended as medical advice or replacement for skilled OT services.