What is OT?
OT(Occupational Therapy) is about participation in daily occupations, coping with life roles, active inclusion in the community. As you can see, occupation is inclusive of all the things we engage in doing that occupies our lives.
It's a bold statement, but OTs suggest that this participation is what human rights "looks like" in a practical sense. That this is what health "looks like" in a practical sense.
After all, it's hard to imagine someone enjoying good health and human rights if they couldn't access or be supported to participate in the occupations they need and want to do to survive and thrive as a human.
OTs don't just work in hospitals!
Perhaps you've encountered occupational therapy in another arena; hospital rehabilitation after a relative had a stroke, home modifications or a young man returning home after a serious car accident, therapy for kids with special needs in schools, helping people with equipment or strategies to age at home long as possible, assisting people return to work after injury, enabling life skills to help reclaim life after mental illness. . .and so on. . .
The common denominator is expertise creating and enabling occupational opportunities - so despite whatever difficult situation, diagnosis, disease, disability, people can manage daily occupations, life roles, and active inclusion in the community.
That's why occupational therapy is well placed to complement work with refugees and asylum seekers!
OT & Displacement
Displaced people have lost life roles, gained new life roles, have to find new ways of doing life roles, new ways of being healthy and connected to the community.
People are always adjusting their occuaptions to manage each new situation. For example: changing what you do, when you do it, who helps, where you do things, how often you do things and more subtle adaptaions with motivation, values, beliefs to help you manage.
Some people are more vulnterable to problems adapting because of special needs: elders, people with disabilities, people affected by mental distress or trauma etc. Sometimes family, friends or services have tried, but a person may need more help to ensure they can participate in every day occupations. An OT can help by:
work with the person to understand and adapt to a health condition, or to rehearse new skills (eg understanding how "doing things" can help recovery or build skills)
work with the occupation at hand to make it fit the person better (eg involve family re-negotiate responsibilities, learn how to use a computer with visual impairment)
work with the person's physical or social environment so it fits the person better (eg give advice to employer about reasonable adjustments for a disability)
World Federation of Occuaptional Therapists (WFOT) states:
Occupational therapy is a client-centred health profession concerned with promoting health and well being through occupation. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement.(WFOT 2012)