What to Expect at an Occupational Therapy 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.

What to expect during an OT appointment?

An appointment with an occupational therapist includes medical history, health assessment, goal setting, and planning. Caregivers and loved ones can also receive training and guidance. An overall evaluation can last anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours, depending on challenges. This can occur in a hospital or an outpatient setting.

Medical history

Medical and personal history will be gathered and reviewed. This may include general personal information, such as age and family history. It will also encompass diagnosis, history of medical conditions, current medications, past procedures, treatments, allergies, etc. The therapist may ask questions about daily life, struggles, and life before the onset of the injury or illness.

Physical and cognitive assessments

Tests are typically needed to get an idea of where the functionality level is. Factors, such as pain, sensation, range of motion, tone, coordination, proprioception, manual muscle strength, skin health, vital signs, mental status, and the level of assistance required with activities of daily living (ADLs) are assessed. Additional testing may be performed depending on the needs or condition, including a driving safety evaluation or other specific exams. The therapist will determine whether the individual is a good candidate for the program.


The OT will work with individuals to determine which goals to set. These goals can be short-term or long-term. It is important for goals to be measurable and relative to the referral. It may be beneficial to obtain a copy of the goals. Deciding on which goals are reasonable is essential to the success of the program, as is understanding the goals.


A plan will be developed on how to achieve the goals that have been set. This will include determining how often occupational therapy is required and the duration of each visit. It will also include strategies that may be explored to achieve the goals. An example of a plan could be the following: “The client will attend occupational therapy twice per week for three months for exercises in strength and coordination and organizational training.”

Moving forward

An OT appointment will depend entirely on the client and what their specific diagnoses and needs are. Generally, the therapist will help the client work towards their goals and periodically evaluate their progress and needs for continued treatment.

Additional source: Verywell Health