Explained: What Is Occupational Therapy and Why Does It Matter?

Understanding Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy plays a vital role in enhancing the well-being and quality of life for individuals of all ages. But what does an occupational therapist do? Whether it’s adults seeking to regain independence or children with developmental challenges, occupational therapists in Australia provide invaluable support and interventions. In this blog post, we will delve into the multifaceted role of occupational therapists and explore why individuals, both adults and children, may benefit from occupational therapy. We will also discuss the various settings where occupational therapists work, the process of becoming an occupational therapist, and the importance of their role in Australia.

What Does an Occupational Therapist Do for Adults?

Occupational therapists assist adults in regaining independence and improving their overall well-being. They evaluate individuals’ abilities, identify areas of challenge, and develop personalised intervention plans. For adults, occupational therapists may focus on activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, and cooking. They may also address cognitive skills, work-related tasks, community integration, and stress management. Through adaptive strategies, environmental modifications, and therapeutic activities, occupational therapists empower adults to maximise their independence and engage meaningfully in daily activities.

What Does an Occupational Therapist Do for a Child?

Occupational therapists play a crucial role in supporting children’s development and addressing their unique challenges. For children, occupational therapists focus on promoting engagement in daily activities, social interactions, sensory processing, and motor skills development. They evaluate children’s abilities, identify areas of difficulty, and design interventions tailored to their specific needs. Through play-based activities, sensory modulation techniques, fine motor exercises, and social skills training, occupational therapists help children reach their developmental milestones and build the foundational skills necessary for future success.

Why Would a Child Need Occupational Therapy?

Children may require occupational therapy for various reasons. Some children experience delays in their motor skills development, such as difficulty with handwriting, using utensils, or tying shoelaces. Others may struggle with sensory processing, becoming easily overwhelmed or avoiding certain sensory stimuli. Occupational therapy can also benefit children with autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or learning difficulties, as it focuses on improving self-regulation, social skills, and independence in daily activities. By addressing these challenges early on, occupational therapists help children overcome barriers and thrive in their academic, social, and personal lives.

Where Do Occupational Therapists Work?

Occupational therapists work in various settings to meet the diverse needs of their clients. They can be found in hospitals, rehabilitation centres, community health centres, schools, private practices, and home-based settings. Occupational therapists collaborate with healthcare professionals, educators, families, and caregivers to provide comprehensive care. This multidisciplinary approach ensures holistic support and maximises the outcomes of therapy for individuals of all ages.

How to Become an Occupational Therapist

To become an occupational therapist in Australia, one must complete a recognised occupational therapy degree programme. This typically involves a four-year undergraduate course or a two-year postgraduate programme. Upon graduation, aspiring occupational therapists need to register with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia and meet the requirements outlined by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Continuing professional development is essential for maintaining registration and staying current with best practices in the field.

Occupational therapists in Australia play a significant role in supporting individuals’ health, well-being, and participation in daily activities. They are committed to providing client-centred care, tailoring interventions to meet the unique needs and goals of each individual. Occupational therapists collaborate with other professionals to ensure comprehensive support and utilise evidence-based practices to achieve optimal outcomes. Their expertise is highly valued in promoting independence, enhancing quality of life, and empowering individuals of all ages to overcome challenges and reach their full potential.

Useful Links:

  1. Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA)
  2. Speech and Occupational Therapy for Children: Enhancing Communication and Functioning
  3. Addressing Behavioural Concerns: Experienced Support Services at Succeed Healthcare Solutions
  4. Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) Code of Ethics: Guiding Ethical Practice in Occupational Therapy
  5. Exploring Occupational Therapy Jobs: A Rewarding Career Path
  6. The Role of Occupational Therapy in Mental Health: Promoting Well-being and Independence


Occupational therapists in Australia have a vital role in improving the lives of individuals, both adults and children, through their expertise in addressing physical, cognitive, sensory, and emotional challenges. By working with clients in various settings, occupational therapists enable individuals to regain independence, develop essential skills, and engage meaningfully in daily activities. If you or your loved one can benefit from occupational therapy, consider consulting a qualified occupational therapist to explore the exceptional services they provide and how they can support your journey towards a better quality of life.