How to become an Occupational Therapist

  • Price: £5.99
  • Published: July 2016
  • Type: Business Opportunity Profile
  • Format: PDF
  • What qualifications and skills are required?
  • Key market issues and trends
  • Trading, commercial and legal issues
  • Legislation
  • Further information

Occupational therapists (OTs) are allied health professionals who work as independent professionals directly with patients who have physical or mental health problems that restrict their ability to carry out everyday activities independently.

Occupational therapy is a regulated profession, and it is illegal to practise under the title occupational therapist without being registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.

OTs provide practical support, helping people to approach tasks in different ways, teaching them new goal-related strategies, advising them about adaptations to their home or workplace, or assisting them to use equipment. The majority of independent OTs specialise in a particular area of practice, such as treating children or adults with learning difficulties, or supporting elderly people who have dementia or who have had strokes or are recovering from operations. Typical patient groups also include people who are recovering from a recent illness or injury and people with a long-term mental or physical health problem such as Parkinson's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, Tourette's syndrome and bipolar disorder. 

Most independent OTs enter private practice after being employed by organisations such as health trusts, local authorities and residential care homes, and there are opportunities to provide private therapy to individual patients who self-refer or are referred by a private medical practice. There are also opportunities for private providers of occupational therapy to accept referrals from the NHS and local authority social services departments or to work under contract for commercial clients such as residential care homes or local employers who require OT services for their residents or staff. Some OTs also provide expert witness and consultancy services in legal cases where an independent professional assessment of a patient's needs is required.

This profile provides information about starting up and practising as an independent OT. It describes the skills required, the training available, the current market trends and the key trading issues. It also explains the legislation that must be complied with and provides sources of further information and support.

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