Over the past century, the field of occupational therapy (OT) has continued to evolve in its efforts to help people deal with a wide variety of challenges. OTs can help deal with anything from (physical) injury recovery to mental health concerns – but what exactly is occupation, and how can occupational therapy help you? The term “occupation” commonly refers to a ‘job’ or ‘what you do for a living’ but, that is only one aspect. For an occupational therapist, occupation means so much more.
Occupation in this context, includes all of the activities that you want to do, need to do, or are expected to do to live your life to the fullest. This can be anything from self-care activities like brushing your teeth or showering, productivity activities like going to work or school, and leisure activities like painting or reading. Occupation can mean different things for different people, and may not just fit into one specific category.
Occupation is essential for human survival and can help us get through difficult times. We have a biological need for occupation. Whether we occupy ourselves with activities that satisfy certain desires or activities that help sustain our heath and well being, occupation is the vehicle that drives our safety and fuels our needs.
When engaging in occupation (activities) it can be easy to lose sight of and control over these kinds activities, depending on the types of issues that you are facing and how they impact your day to day. An occupational therapist can empower you to regain control over your life. Occupational therapy can help you become your own agent of change and improve your confidence in difficult times.
Occupational therapists can also support you by helping you establish healthy habits and routines. They can help you identify and break out of any negative patterns of emotional behaviour that may impact your condition and provide strategies so that you can react to certain situations in healthier ways. Occupational therapists can provide support that is both emotional and informational in nature such as talking about fears and anxieties and teaching you coping skills to better manage your pain.
Occupation acts as a tool through which the past, present, and future of a person is incorporated into their life. Occupations allow us to express the essence of the self in midst of crisis and creates the potential for a fuller, clearer self once the crisis resolves.
If you feel you are no longer able to perform or are having difficulty performing activities that you want to do, need to do, or are expected to do an occupational therapist may be able to help. Book an appointment or search for a clinic near you today.
This blog originally appeared on Lifemark.ca and was written by Lydia Heng, an Occupational Therapy student at Queen’s University.