Signs of a Bad Occupational Therapist

Source: WebMD

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.

Unfortunately, not every OT is professional, ethical, and good at their job. Some may be actively harmful, while others may not be the right fit. Having a good provider is an essential factor in obtaining the best treatment option. Knowing the signs to look for in a bad provider can help avoid receiving subpar care.

They don’t show up

A provider may have a personal emergency that requires them to miss an appointment, which is understandable. However, it should not be a routine occurrence. If the OT is regularly missing appointments or arriving late, the client's time is being disrespected, or they have organizational issues. If this is occurring frequently, it may be time to find a new OT.

Practicing without a license

In most locations, occupational therapists must be licensed in order to provide treatment. Those who are not licensed may not have the appropriate education and training, which can leave treatments ineffective or harmful.

Breaking confidentiality

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law in the United States that was enacted in 1996 to protect individuals’ private health information from being shared without their consent. If an OT is breaching patient confidentiality by discussing personal information with others, a new OT is needed. It should also be reported to the organization.

No treatment plan

Prior to beginning treatment, an OT should discuss and create a treatment plan based on the diagnosis, goals, and personal history. Without this, treatment plans lack important structure required in order to move forward.

Inappropriate behavior

An OT should remain professional in the workplace and refrain from inappropriate behavior when interacting with clients. This not only extends to romantic or sexual advances, but also includes sharing social media profiles, asking to meet outside the clinic, and discussing political or religious affiliations.


All medical providers should remain nonjudgmental when interacting with their clients. An individual seeking occupational therapy is in a vulnerable position by seeking help with tasks they struggle with. An OT who judges their clients will isolate them and foster an environment of distrust.


An impatient occupation therapist is typically not a good provider. It is likely that individuals seeking occupational therapy are going to take a long time to learn or re-learn certain tasks. Especially for those who have Alzheimer’s, a traumatic brain injury, etc., that impacts memory. An OT needs patience to provide proper assistance.


Occupational therapy is a very personal experience. An OT needs to be adaptable to the needs of each client. If they refuse to modify exercises or tasks in a way that best meets the individual’s needs, they are setting their client up for failure.

Poor communication

An OT should clearly state what is occurring and why during therapy. They should also listen carefully to any questions or concerns an individual has. If the therapist does not listen or explain things adequately, a new occupational therapist may be needed.

Additional sources: and Core Medical Group