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The Friendly Feminist 
Family Psychologist 

Occupational Therapy for Mental Health?​ YES!

Occupational Therapy: making every task a little less work.

When we mention that we have an Occupational therapist on our staff, we often get a bit of a curious look. So I thought I would answer some of the Frequently Asked Questions that we get when talking about how Occupational Therapy can help you!





Occupational Therapy: Frequently Asked Questions


​What does an Occupational Therapist do?


Occupational Therapists have a super power in looking at how a person "occupies" themselves or spends their time in order to help them feel healthier, happier, and more themselves. While Psychologists and other therapists will help you mainly with your internal processes, OT's have a super power in helping you make both internal and external adjustments to help you with your mental health. ​


Within mental health settings like YEG FC, occupational therapy can be used as a stand-alone treatment or in conjunction with treatments provided by other healthcare disciplines such as psychiatry, psychology, social work and counselling. Learn more about Occupational Therapy here.​


What makes Occupational Therapy different from psychology, social work or other disciplines that provide therapy?


​Occupational Therapists focus on the activities you do that occupy your time, give you meaning and help you enhance these activities to help you feel better. ​Central to occupational therapy is doing. So whether your goal is career exploration, finding balance, household management, social skills, or something else, you can expect therapy sessions and homework afterward to focus on activities that help solidify the skills and practical strategies.


​Can you give me some examples of how Occupational Therapy can help with Mental Health?​​


Let's say your therapy goal is to be more confident and cultivate self-esteem. Your psychologist or Counsellor might work with you to understand and heal the underlying causes of low self-esteem to move you toward self compassion. The occupational therapist will, in addition, explore activities with you that you struggle to engage with because of low self-confidence. Then, your OT would teach strategies to improve self-confidence or modify the activity to promote self-confidence and self-esteem.​


Part of the therapy approach might include role-playing, learning a new skill, changing the activity or modifying the environment to encourage success. Through this process, we might address the underlying causes of low self-esteem and self-confidence or discover that more work with psychology is required.​


What will a session look like with an Occupational Therapist?


Each session with your OT might look a little bit different. In the beginning, they will spend some time getting to know you as a person and also a little bit about what you are struggling with. Sometimes that will involve assessments that involve you answering some questions verbally or on paper.


Later on, though, each session will depend completely on what you are needing. Your sessions might happen in the office, online, or even out in the community. If you are struggling with Self-esteem like the example above, your OT might go with you to a workshop on self-esteem, or attend a hot yoga class with you, or help you find a bird-watching group that might be of interest to you.


In some instances, an OT session looks very similar to a therapy session, and certain OT's have just as much experience working therapeutically with clients as their psychology counterparts.


Every intervention and every session will have your fingerprints all over it, and you get to have the biggest say in what is going to be best and most helpful for you.


Is Occupational Therapy covered by my insurance?


You'll have to check directly with your provider, but it often is! Usually Occupational Therapy is covered under mental health services but it is also sometimes its own category, which means if you have already used up your max for therapy, you may have a different pot of money to draw from.


OT can also be covered for kids through government programs. If you like the feel of our practice, ask your (or your child's) caseworker if you qualify for coverage for OT and put them in touch with us so we can work out the details!



So what now?

If you're intrigued, here are a few things you can do to take action.


1. Find out more about Occupational Therapy in your area.

2. Call your insurance provider to find out if you are covered to see an Occupational Therapist.

  • This may include extra coverage through your workplace, WCB, Motor Vehicle Accident coverage, Family Services for Children with Disabilities (FSCD), Childrens' Services, or other agencies.


3. Write a list of questions that you would like to ask a potential Occupational Therapist.


This list has been adapted from the Alberta College of Occupational Therapists website.

  • What is your registration number and how long have you been working?

  • What is your training and experience working with people like me dealing with a similar life situation?

  • What kinds of things would you include in my action plan to help me with my struggles?

  • Would you recommend any specific assessments? If so, which ones might you complete?

  • Who else will be involved in treatment? (Family, friends, other healthcare providers, etc.)

  • How many sessions am I likely to need? What frequency do you typically recommend?

  • What are your fees? Are they different when I am in the office vs. in the community or in my home?

  • Do you direct bill my insurance?

  • Will you assign me activities or homework between sessions?

  • When will I know I no longer need your services?


4. When you are ready, interview a few different options using the questions above.


5. Get in touch with YEG Family Counselling if you live in Alberta!


We offer free 15-minute consults with our therapists upon request. Just ask to speak to an Occupational Therapist!






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