Questions to Ask Before an Initial Occupational Therapist Appointment


What is an occupational therapist?

The role of an occupational therapist, or OT, is to help individuals maintain independence by teaching them ways to modify everyday tasks and activities that they can no longer do or have difficulty completing on their own. This could be due to certain conditions, such as autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, traumatic injury, stroke, etc. An OT can help individuals learn how to use assistive technology, learn different ways to complete tasks, suggest safety measures for the home, and train caregivers. Some OT’s help with cognitive aspects of daily life, such as helping with organization, routines, and problem-solving.

Prior to an initial occupational therapist appointment

Before making an appointment with an OT, a person may have a number of questions that need to be answered. This may be accomplished by asking themselves, their primary care physician, the insurance company, or other entities that may be involved.

Is it covered by insurance, or how much will it cost?

While OT may be covered by some individuals’ insurance companies, this is not always the case. It may be an important deciding factor to determine if this service is covered by insurance. If not, find out how much it will cost out of pocket.

Does the OT have specialized training?

If the OT does not have specialized training in a specific condition, it may not be beneficial for certain individuals. If unfamiliar with the condition and its impact, the ability to give quality treatment may be impaired. Specialized training provides an understanding of the issue.

Are treatments evidence-based?

Once an OT is selected to develop a treatment plan, an individual may want to know whether the recommended treatments are evidence-based. Not all treatments that are used in OT are based on scientific evidence; therefore, ensure that research has been published in the last five years to support the use of the treatment plan. This helps individuals to understand the likelihood of the treatment being successful.

Literature recommendations

The internet is full of information about medical conditions and treatments, which can be a valuable resource. However, many sources are inaccurate, misleading, or have false claims. Asking a provider for recommendations on websites or books related to the condition can help to ensure that the person is getting accurate and helpful information.

How does OT continue into the home?

Often, individuals will make great progress in the clinic, but struggle to apply what they have learned to their daily life. It can be beneficial to ask the OT what plans they have to ensure that the progress continues into the individual’s home life. This might also include asking what the expectations are outside the clinic, or if they are expected to practice exercises at home. Find out if “homework” or other tasks should be completed outside the clinic.

Additional source: Verywell Health