What is Online Therapy/Telepractice? More Specifically Online Occupational Therapy (OT)?

By Rosemarie Helton

After working for more than 10 years in traditional occupational therapy settings (school district, hospital, outpatient clinics, etc), I was approached about working in a more non-traditional setting, online. I too was unsure at first what exactly that meant and how that could possibly work. After doing some research, watching a few videos and tutorials and conferencing with other therapists who have provided online therapy I was eager to learn more and get started. Now with one year of online therapy experience under my belt, I am looking forward to starting a new school year providing online OT. When I am asked what I do and I say I’m an OT, most people give me a puzzled look. Many people do not have a good understanding of OT and when it involves services provided online there are even more questions.

Lets first define OT. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA.org) defines occupational therapy practice as “The therapeutic use of occupations, including everyday life activities with individuals, groups, populations, or organizations to support participation, performance, and function in roles and situations in home, school, workplace, community, and other settings.”

The AOTA also notes that “Occupational therapy helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations).”

Next, lets define telepractice/online therapy. According to AOTA, telepractice is a “Service delivery characteristic of a particular profession, preformed by means of telehealth technology rather than traditional face-to-face methods.When these two things are merged together you get online OT.”

Now that we have defined some of the basic terms, check back for future blog posts discussing the basics, answers to frequently asked questions and more exciting news about online OT.