For many of us, participating in everyday activities comes naturally. For others, it can be a whole lot more challenging. Some of us have difficulties with social interaction; some are challenged with learning; and others find movement hard to manage.
This may be due to a condition we were born with, an injury sustained, or simply differences in learning styles and needs. Either way; these impediments can negatively affect independence, overall health, and self esteem.
There are however ways to address these challenges. That is where occupational therapy comes in. But what exactly is it? Occupational therapy is a specialised allied health service which assists people who are challenged by everyday activities. To do this, therapy is centred on the development and mastery of skills, and use of environmental manipulation.
Delivered by occupational therapists, treatment is available for children and adults of all ages and stages. Occupational therapists typically consider multiple facets to craft their treatment plans. These areas include fine motor or gross motor skills, sensory processing, social interactions, along with general thinking, emotions, or behaviours.
Treatment options are varied and incredibly accessible, with many therapists offering services in the comfort of your own home environment. Furthermore, occupational therapists can also address social, psychological, and environmental factors that impact physical performance.
If occupational therapy has been recommended by your health care professional the challenge can be knowing where to start. Fortunately, we’ve hunted down some of the leading practitioners in the Canberra region. Read on below to find out more.
What makes a great occupational therapist?
Great occupational therapists are masters of movement, developing progressive treatment plans that motivate clients towards achievement of goals. The best put their years of training and experience on the line working with clients from all walks of life, helping them live better lives. To evaluate your next occupational therapist keep an eye out for the following:
- Well qualified & experienced. All practising occupational therapists will have successfully acquired an undergraduate or master’s degree in occupational therapy. Additionally, they must be registered with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia. As the peak industry body, the board is responsible for accrediting practitioners nation-wide, setting benchmarks, and ensuring adherence to their code of conduct. Furthermore, look for therapists with a lengthy track record and notable experience in your specific area of need. Some may have extensive experience in fine motor skills, while others may specialise in sensory and emotional regulation. Consider your needs and select your occupational therapist accordingly.
- Interpersonal expert. When it comes to occupational therapy the need for outstanding communication skills cannot be understated. And, under this broad umbrella comes clear articulation, confident delivery, and active listening. Moreover, the best occupational therapists are people-people. They are interpersonal experts, reading and adapting their therapy styles to suit each client, on any given day.
- Professional problem solver. Problem solving is at the heart of every successful occupational therapist. Each client faces different challenges, has different goals, and requires different motivations. A great occupational therapist thrives on these variances creating tailored strategies to address these nuances. Moreover, the best therapists are quick on their feet adapting programs to reflect their client’s mood or ability on the day. This unique skill set takes problem solving to a whole new level, which the best occupational therapists take to with ease.
- Caring & compassionate. Empathy, compassion, and a caring disposition are vital skills for occupational therapists. Why? Because they work with patients experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions. Be it frustration from the loss of skills, or fear of learning new ones; treatment can be an emotionally draining time. Therefore, find a therapist with a genuine desire to help others. When the chips are down this compassion will inspire even the most disheartened to keep striving for their goals.
- Plenty of patience. As with most therapies, there is no such thing as a quick fix. Working through treatment plans takes diligence, persistence, and shed load of patience – for both clients and their therapists. The best occupational therapists recognise these challenges and exercise plenty of patience on the road to success.
The best occupational therapists in Canberra
RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.
To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.
Raw & Moore Occupational Therapy was locally founded in 2013 to address the need for more adult mobility services within the Canberra region.
Adult services include specialist disability accommodation, supported independent living options, along with cognitive, sensory, and functional therapy. Fast forward to today, and services now also paediatrics along with upper hand and limb therapy.
Their mission is to provide high quality, evidence-based service provisions that support clients, and their families, to achieve therapy goals.
NSW PHSIG shared this feedback on Google, “Would highly recommend the team at Raw and Moore Occupational Therapy, have always gone above and beyond to help our clients transition into the community.”
Little Hands Occupational Therapy is an NDIS approved private practice that provides therapeutic support for children in Canberra. They focus on supporting children aged 0-6 with high or complex needs, along with developmental delays.
Little Hands offers a wide range of individual or group treatment options; and cater particularly well to young children with genetic disorders and autism. Their team of five occupational therapists are supported by as many therapy assistants including two friendly therapy dogs.
To enable your child to better participate in the wonder of the world around them look to Little Hands Occupational Therapy.
Specialising in occupational therapy for children, Kids Space provides individualised and holistic therapy services which are play based and goal directed. Kids Space is locally owned and operated by paediatric OT Sumita, who wanted to create a safe space to nurture each child’s full potential.
With a team of four highly experienced occupational therapists, they can assist in a range of areas from gross and fine motor, social and emotional regulation, to sensory processing and more.
In addition to individual sessions, Kids Spaces also offers group intervention and a mum’s support group. To help your child develop new skills and improve their confidence look to Kids Space.
Emily Peelgrane had this to say on Google, “I have worked with Sumita professionally and also used their services for my son. I couldn't recommend them highly enough.”
With locations in Deakin, Kippax, and Queanbeyan, Early Start Australia are a clinic-based provider offering a range of services from occupational therapy, to physiotherapy, and speech pathology.
Practice principal Lyndsay Currie boasts over thirty years- experience working in childhood physical disability. Their team of occupational therapists work with children, young adults, and their families to maximise development.
As such, Early Start focuses on empowerment through individualised activities that are incorporated into play as much as possible. Moreover, therapy can be conducted in a client’s own environment to minimise stress and make intervention contextual to their world.
Henry shared this review of his experience on Google, “…. If your child has any developmental issues, I would recommend you to see Carolyn and her team…. It will be the best investment of your time and money.”
For over 25 years, the ORS Group have been helping those with disabilities and injuries to live better independently. They provide a range of allied health, workplace rehabilitation, and employment services, including occupational therapy.
Their team of experienced occupational therapists are well equipped to work with a range of disabilities including autism, intellectual impairment, physical, neurological, and more.
Occupational services include assessment and supports for sensory, behaviour management, paediatrics, functional capacity, wheelchairs, assistive technology, and home modifications. For services that truly work, look to the ORS Group.
If you’re looking for more health services in Canberra, you might like our articles on the best doctors, the best paediatricians, the best hearing centres and audiologists, and the best optometrists Canberra has to offer.
Your experience with occupational therapists in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you had experience with any of the occupational therapists listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy provides support for people who are having difficulty performing everyday tasks, that is, the tasks that occupy them. Therapy can help with gaining, regaining, or maintaining one’s ability to perform such tasks through applying different techniques, using new equipment, or changing their environment.
What does an occupational therapist do?
An occupational therapist is an allied health professional who enables clients to become more productive through overcoming obstacles they face while attempting to do everyday activities. Occupational therapists work with people of all ages by improving skills and the application these daily life. To do this they plan and coordinate customised therapy programs to suit the individual needs and conditions of their clients.
Why might my child need to see an occupational therapist?
Your child may have been referred to an occupational therapist if they have difficulties doing everyday things due to developmental delay, physical, psychological, or emotional challenges, or intellectual disability. As always, refer to your doctor to see if this therapy is relevant.
Do I need a GP referral for assessment or therapy?
While a GP referral is not mandatory for an assessment or treatment, it is required if you wish to claim a rebate through Medicare of DSS programs. The Medicare rebate for example, is available for some children and may cover a portion of the cost so it is worth discussing with your GP beforehand.
Can I claim the cost of occupational therapy through Medicare?
In some instances, you may be eligible to claim up to 5 visits to an occupational therapist per calendar year with a portion of the cost covered by a Medicare rebate. This does however require a referral from your General Practitioner. Moreover, some private health funds may include occupational therapy under their extras cover. For more information on your level of cover please contact your private health fund.