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Put simply, a doctor will save your life for you, but an occupational therapist will help you live it. We are HCPC registered healthcare professionals and we work throughout health and social care settings.  Occupational Therapists are the only allied health professional trained in both physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Our approach to improving health and wellbeing is to work with individuals so that they do the things that matter to them and are most meaningful.  Our therapy focuses on you doing activities (which we call "occupations") and we understand that this, in itself, has a powerful therapeutic value. We understand these activities are powerful.   They might be about your self care, your productivity or your leisure interests. That makes us holistic therapists in that we consider any task or activity that matters to you. We can analyse and problem solve all of the fine details and circumstances which make an activity happen or not happen, for you, as a unique individual, in your life circumstances


Where do we work?

Elizabeth Casson started Occupational Therapy in the UK for mental health treatment in 1917, and we have worked in healthcare services ever since.  Traditionally, we work in the NHS doing different work in different settings. We work in mental health services, and in hospitals, community services, and primary care services.  Some of us work in social care.  Some of us are in private practise, and in the voluntary and community sectors. Because we have a multidisciplinary team-working approach the work that we do complements rather than conflicts with the work of other health and care professionals.  When we are in uniform you will usually see us wearing green trousers, and a white and green tunic or polo shirt.



Holistic - person centred - evidence based: Our influences and approaches are mainly from a Humanistic approach, especially the therapeutic approach of Carl Rogers where we relate to the whole person and their unique context and understand the uniqueness of each and every person.  Therefore, we use a person centred approach.   We like to build on your strengths and abilities, rather than focussing on the things that others might say are wrong with you or that need to be changed or 'fixed'.   We work in a personalised way with all or any of the biological-physical-psychological-social and/or contextual factors that are impacting upon your 'doing', and we understand the impact of these factors on your health and wellbeing. We are holistic in this sense but our work is deeply rooted in evidence based practice and we have the clinical and core skills that you would expect from any allied health professional.  One way that Occupational Therapy differs in its approach to other health professions is that we not only assess the person, but we also consider the occupation - what activity or task is it that you want or need to do, as well as the physical and social context that activity takes place in.  We don't just tell you what to do because if that was all it took you'd have done it yourself already. We certainly don't blame you if you can't or don't.  Instead, coming from a social model of health, we consider how the contextual and environmental factors surrounding you have an impact, and we also understand that that changing the physical and social environment/context can be just as valid and effective to solve a problem as working on personal factors. 


Our therapy tool box is very varied so we can give you a bespoke solution.  We might make the task possible for you, or help you develop and attain the skills and knowledge that enable that occupation. We might use behavioural modification tools and techniques that help you make the changes you intend to make, step by step. We might help you with motivational interviewing to help you find the resources you need inside of you. We might use a cognitive-behavioural approach, where we explore the thoughts that prevent you feeling fulfilled and the behaviours that might work for or against your pursuit of your goals.  We might work from a compassionate-mind approach where we acknowledge, kindly, the architecture and evolution of our brains and minds, and how we are shaped by our experiences and our emotions to understand why difficulties might arise, and find the potential for a growth mindset.  

Generally, you choose the goals that matter to you and we collaborate with you in a person centred way, bringing the tools you need to work towards you doing meaningful activities for yourself, or doing as much as you are able to do.

Our interventions are goal orientated and evidence based, usually working via training, education, skills development, task adaptation, occupational development, environmental modification, support provision, and/or support enhancement. Evidence shows our programmes are successful in improving performance in areas of self care, productivity and leisure (McColl and Law, 2013).



In relation to mental health and wellbeing, if for example your GP has given you antidepressants we can help you with the therapeutic activities that support and work alongside your medications. By talking to you and finding out what is important to you, we can help you learn new knowledge and skills and make the changes that will help your well-being. This might include mindfulness, or therapeutic use of the Arts and creativity.  You might complement your medication with ecotherapy and getting outside more, or it may be that you need some more people around you that you can trust and who will be supportive and kind.  Perhaps it is a combination of all of these things that you need. Occupational therapy in mental health services helps people rebuild these components of wellbeing.

In relation to physical health, our approach is to provide practical help with tasks that might be difficult for you after physical or cognitive impairment, or when you are recovering from an illness or disease, or operation, or when you need or want to make lifestyle changes to live life better. We consult with you about the activities that matter most to you, work out the precise aspect of function you are struggling with, and support that with tools like grading, adaptation, or compensatory approaches so that you can participate in the activity.  For example, some people are advised to change aspects of their lifestyle by a health professional, but they find it hard to make those changes happen. We can provide information and encouragement, help you with motivation and change, and help you make the progress you want and need to make.

Sometimes needs are complex and about both physical and mental health such as in the case of a memory deficit or dementia, we can provide an important source of support for clients and their families, maximise independence in day to day activities, routines and leisure activities and help, with compassion, to identify the areas that are becoming harder and help find ways around these.  This might include help with remembering and/or orientation strategies, help establishing a routine that is kind,  or in planning your participation in a future event.  An occupational therapist might provide new techniques or advise on support needed to complete tasks like washing and dressing and meal preparation, provide advice about sourcing the right equipment that is safe and maximises independence, and suggest longer term adaptations to keep your home safe.

It all starts with an initial assessment and consultation with you about what you can do, and what you want to achieve.  Therapy then provides practical solutions, recommendations and strategies about how to achieve the day to day tasks and activities that you want or need to do.

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