Occupational therapy and definition and areas of action

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy

Many people do not have the profession of occupational therapist very located. What’s more, there are those who think that these specialists are solely dedicated to entertaining people who have some physical, cognitive and / or behavioral limitation. However, their work goes much further.

With this article we would like to clarify the most common doubts about what occupational therapy is, the figure of the occupational therapist and his profession.


The World Health Organization (WHO) defines occupational therapy as:

“The set of techniques, methods and actions that, through activities applied for therapeutic purposes, prevents disease and maintains health, favors the restoration of function, supplies incapacitating deficiencies and values ??the assumptions of behavior and its profound significance for to achieve the greatest possible independence and reintegration of the individual in all its aspects: labor, mental, physical and social. “

In other words, an occupational therapist is a social health professional who, in addition to being part of interdisciplinary teams, tries to improve the health and well-being of any person with an illness, injury, disability or at risk of social exclusion that limits or disables your participation in activities of daily living (ADL).

To achieve this, this professional makes an initial evaluation in order to know the patient’s condition. And, once the needs are detected, it provides you with personalized treatment based on therapeutic procedures that, depending on the circumstances, will serve to stimulate physical, mental and sensory functions, enhance skills or encourage the (re) learning of tasks. 

In any case, the main objective is to achieve that the patient develops personal autonomy in his daily routine, at the same time that his quality of life increases.


The occupational therapist is used to assessing, preventing and acting on patients regardless of their age, class or condition . Its area of ??action is not limited to a single one, but can cover several.

Here we focus on the areas that we consider to be the most common:


This field of occupational therapy is responsible for treating patients suffering from mental illnesses or disorders.

Among the most common are: schizophrenia, mood disorders, personality disorders and eating disorders (ED).


Professionals specialized in this field of action take care of those people who have movement difficulties in one or more parts of the body, posture defects, lack of coordination or balance disorders.

These problems may be due to an alteration in the muscles, bones, or joints; or, be the consequence of some brain damage that affects motor skills.


Some occupational therapists are dedicated to helping older people, especially those who suffer from physical and / or mental pathologies derived from aging.

The day to day of these professionals is focused on keeping these patients active and integrated in the social environment, slowing down the progression of their diseases and providing them with quality of life and independence as far as possible.


This type of occupational therapy is aimed at assisting children and adolescents with one or more altered skills (or who lack any of them) due to illness, physical or psychological trauma, dysfunction, a situation of poverty, etc.

Through activities and therapeutic procedures, an attempt is made to address these limitations so that they do not go further, while stimulating cognitive, psychomotor and social development.


Occupational therapy is also responsible for contributing to the recovery of people who have suffered a serious psychological or physical injury through training and rehabilitation of those capacities that can be improved. Always following the most appropriate guidelines for the situation of each patient.


Occupational therapy is a social health profession recognized in Spain by Law 44/2003, of November 21, on the organization of the health professions and which you can access through the Degree in Blended Occupational Therapy of the European University.

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