Occupational therapy and psychology

Occupational therapy and psychology

An elderly person with dementia or neurodegenerative disease, a drug dependent adult or a child with profound mental retardation.

In many of these cases, it will be necessary to teach these people to apply different approaches and skills that are necessary for the proper functioning of the individual or that maintain these skills for as long as possible.

One way of delivering this training is through occupational therapy, a field of health care that has a tertiary education in many Spanish-speaking countries. In this article we will learn how it works and what methods it uses.

The concept of occupational therapy

Work therapy is a set of therapeutic techniques, methods and methods of treatment that, through the performance of a number of activities or activities, stimulate the person in charge to develop the basic skills necessary for his or her daily life, prevent illness or disability, restore or maintain abilities, explore new ways of acting and/or adapt to their situation.

The aim is for the patient to significantly improve his or her quality of life and strengthen his or her autonomy.

Different activities can perform both physical and mental activities: fine motor skills, memory, cognition or executive functions are usually the most elaborated elements of occupational therapy.

Occupational therapy is usually used for rehabilitation purposes, but it can also be devoted to learning how to enjoy it or to creating a range of skills that will help to realize a future profession.

The actions that need to be performed can be very different, depending on the type of problems you are working with and the goal that will be achieved.

The ways in which these activities can be used can also vary greatly: for example, you can use physical play, mental exercise, dance or music therapy. In any case, this is wanted and is directly related to the activities of the day on the patient’s day, and it is interesting and meaningful to do so.

Other needs and applications of this type of therapy

They should be designed to assess the status, effectiveness and development of the actor, and to take into account the priorities and needs of the actor.

It is common that among the various tasks there are mental exercises that make you remember, plan and organise, as well as provide basic self-care and allow you to learn motor and behavioural skills that are important for maintaining well-being.

It is not just fun or something to pass the time: all the activities performed (even if the subject is supposed to be learning to enjoy his or her leisure time) are designed to stimulate and support the patient.

Usually this type of therapy is conducted in a group format., combining different subjects with the same problem or with similar profiles, which should work in the same field or engage in core activities in the same session.

However, it can also be used individually when the aim is to teach a skill.

The type of patients who need it

There are many people who may need occupational therapy, mentioning a few typical cases in the introduction to this article.

So occupational therapy This is well known and applied in the world of geriatrics, in the elderly and the elderly. This is due to the functional limitations that the aging of the body causes.

And it is especially common in patients with neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia, 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 relates to people with intellectual disabilities, who in some cases (especially when disability is moderate, severe or profound) may require stimulation and learning about basic activities through this format of therapy. The same applies to other disorders of nervous system development, such as autism.

Finally, all those who have suffered from some type of disease (congenital or acquired) or disabling disorder will benefit greatly from this type of therapy.

Examples of this can be found in people with cerebral palsy. Patients with cancer, deficiency or sensory problems, substance abuse or mental health problems also have these.

The benefits of this intervention

The implementation of occupational therapy is very useful for maintaining mental health and prolonging basic functions in patients with various diseases. In subjects with advanced degeneration functions can prolong normal functioning and slow down the degeneration process.

Both in these cases and those without loss of function, physical, mental, and sensory stimulation, professional development, and sometimes the study of basic activities and skills are possible.

It also allows the patient to maintain and sometimes increase their self-esteem and independence. In addition, they can also lead to social and labour integration, developing behaviours that allow their achievement.

Finally, the observation of other patients in similar situations allows socialisation and the subject does not feel differently, being able also to express their emotions and doubts in front of people in conditions parallel to their own.


Notwithstanding the above, it is important to remember one thing: occupational therapy This is not a therapeutic treatment, but a support and a way to alleviate disability, which may be represented by different conditions.