yes, therapy helps!
Occupational therapy: types and use in Psychology

Occupational therapy: types and use in Psychology

January 6, 2023

An elderly person with a dementia or neurodegenerative disease, a drug-dependent adult or a child with a profound intellectual disability. In many of these cases, it will be necessary to teach these people to put into practice various attitudes and skills that are necessary for proper personal functioning or that keep these skills preserved for as long as possible.

One of the means to carry out this learning is the use of occupational therapy, a field of health that has its own university degree in many Spanish-speaking countries. In this article we will know how it works and what methods it uses.

  • Related article: "Types of psychological therapies"

The concept of occupational therapy

Occupational therapy is a set of therapeutic techniques, methods and treatments that, through the performance of a series of activities or occupations, the person treated is stimulated so that he can develop the basic skills necessary for his daily life, prevent the disease or disability, recover or maintain faculties, learn new ways of acting and / or adapt to their situation. The goal is to make the patient substantially improve their quality of life and strengthen their autonomy.


The different activities to perform can work both physical and psychic: fine motor skills, memory, cognition or executive functions are usually the most worked elements in occupational therapy. Occupational therapy is usually used for rehabilitation purposes, but it can also be devoted to learning to enjoy or create a series of skills that allow the realization of a future occupation.

The activities to be carried out can be very varied, depending on the type of problems with which you are working and the objective to be achieved. The ways to apply these activities can also vary greatly: you can apply physical games, mental exercises, dance or music therapy, for example. In any case, it is sought that directly refer to the activities of the day to patient's day and that are interesting and meaningful for this one.


Other needs and uses of this type of therapy

They must be designed so that the subject's status, performance and evolution can be assessed, and the priorities and needs of the subject in question are also taken into account.

It is common that among the various tasks are mental exercises that force to remember, plan and organize, as well as carry out basic personal care and allow the learning of motor and behavioral skills essential to maintain well-being. It is not a mere entertainment or something to pass the time: all activities that are carried out (even if what is intended is that the subject learns to enjoy their leisure) are intended to stimulate the patient and help cope with their difficulties, having therapeutic orientation.

It is common for this type of therapy to be carried out in a group format , bringing together different subjects with the same problem or with similar profiles that need to work in the same area or basic activity in the same session. In spite of this, it can also be used individually when what is intended is to teach a skill.


  • You may be interested: "The 18 types of mental illness"

Type of patients that require it

There are a large number of people who may require the use of occupational therapy, having mentioned several typical cases in the introduction of this article.

So the occupational therapy It is well known and applied in the world of geriatrics , in elderly and elderly people. This is due to the functional limitations that the aging of the organism causes. And it is especially common in patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as dementias, in which it is intended to maintain and optimize the autonomous functioning of the subject as far as possible.

Another group that we have already mentioned has to do with the population with intellectual disability, which in some cases (especially when the disability is moderate, severe or profound) may require stimulation and learning of basic activities through this therapy format. The same goes for other neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.

Finally, all those people who have suffered some type of illness (whether congenital or acquired) or invalidating disorder will benefit greatly from this type of therapy. Examples of this can be found in people who have cerebral palsy. Also in patients with cancer, deficits or sensory disabilities, dependencies to substances or psychological disorders.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Alzheimer's: causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention"

Benefits of this intervention

The realization of occupational therapy is very beneficial for the maintenance of the state of mental health and the prolongation of the basic functionality in patients with different diseases. In subjects who have a progressive degeneration of functions can prolong normal functioning and slow the process of degeneration.

Both in these cases and in those cases in which there is no loss of functions, allows physical, psychic and sensory stimulation, the enhancement of skills and sometimes learning essential activities and skills. It also allows the patient to conserve and sometimes increase their self-esteem and independence. Likewise, they can also lead to social and labor inclusion by developing conducts that allow their attainment.

Finally, observing other patients in similar situations allows both socialization and the subject does not feel different, being able to also express your emotions and doubts before people in conditions parallel to their own.

Despite the above, it is important to keep in mind one thing: occupational therapy It is not a healing treatment, but a support and a way to alleviate the disability that various conditions can suppose.


Getting Help - Psychotherapy: Crash Course Psychology #35 (January 2023).


Similar Articles