An occupational therapist is an allied health professional who has had training in occupational therapy.
Who is an occupational therapist?
An occupational therapist is more commonly known as 'OT'. An occupational therapist works with people of all ages who have limitations after suffering from an injury, illness or difficult life circumstances.
They help you get back to their daily activities by using purposeful activities, interventions or equipment so that you can take care of yourself, carry out daily tasks and stay active.
Occupational therapists also work with families and carers to help understand the importance of taking part in their clients' daily activities, as well as helping you participate in social interactions and relationships.
Some occupational therapists are more specialised and have more training in certain areas. These areas include:
- children and young people
- older people
- people with physical disabilities
- people with mental health conditions
- people with learning disabilities.
What can an occupational therapist help with?
There are a number of conditions that it may be a good idea to get help from an occupational therapist. These include:
- arthritis and joint problems
- chronic pain
- brain injury
- nerve problems
- multiple sclerosis
- cerebral palsy
- spinal cord injury
- mental health and behavioural problems.
Some specific tasks that an occupational therapist may help with include:
- eating without the help of others
- bathing and showering
- get dressed
- moving around
- doing laundry.
Talk to your GP or doctor to find out whether you need an occupational therapist.
Where does an occupational therapist work?
As an occupational therapist works with a wide range of clients. You can find them in hospitals, outpatient clinics, prison, nursing homes, hospices, schools, industrial workplaces or rehab centers.
Talk to your doctor about getting a referral to an occupational therapist. Or you can pay for a private service. Find a private occupational therapist here.
What training does an occupational therapist have?
An occupational therapist has to do a 3 year training at university and be registered with the Occupational Therapy Board to work in New Zealand. Find out about different training options to become an occupational therapist on the Careers NZ website.