This is the million dollar question and to be honest, one I don't always like answering because the answer can be so diverse. In university my friend and I would call "dibs" on who had to answer anytime someone asked us.
Some years ago I was asked to answer the dreaded question for a promotion the OT Association was having, and decided to put it in a way that was easiest for me: a poem.
WHAT IS OT?
Occupational therapy didn’t come out of the blue,
It’s been around for decades – it isn’t that new.
Basically, it’s concerned with the things that we do
That are meaningful to us and help us get through.
Whether it’s paid employment or leisurely play,
Or what we do to care for ourselves each day.
Like dressing, cooking, socializing with friends.
If you have a difficulty, we’ll help you do them again.
For the child who has developmental delay,
OT helps build skills needed for school and play –
Fine motor skills, handwriting and not to mention
Coordination, memory, problem-solving and attention.
How about the working person – stressed out and can’t cope,
Who finds it hard to function and is losing all hope.
OT helps to put structure back into the day
And cope with mental health problems – we’ll help you find a way.
Even the older person who has suffered a stroke
Or has developed dementia – or possibly both.
OT focuses on the skills still at hand
To help the person manage as best as he/she can.
For physical, social or emotional difficulties,
Whether they are permanent or temporary,
There may be need for occupational therapy
To help people function more independently.
Be it granny, child, aunty, husband or wife,
OT finds a way to improve the quality of life.