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OT Week 2023 explains Occupations in the context of Occupational Therapy

7th November 2023

OT Week 2023 banner image shows illustrations of people doing different activities.

Occupational Therapy Week (OT Week) is a national awareness raising campaign dedicated to celebrating the life changing power of occupational therapy. This year the week is focusing on what occupation is in the context of occupational therapy and why it’s important.

What’s occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy helps you live your best life at home, at work – and everywhere else. It’s about being able to do the things you want and have to do. That could mean helping you overcome challenges learning at school, going to work, playing sport or simply doing the dishes. Everything is focused on your wellbeing and your ability to participate in activities.

What are occupations?

An occupation is any activity that we need, want or like to do to live and to look after our physical and mental health, and our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. We do occupations from the moment we’re born, on our own or with others.

Occupation isn’t just your job or activities of daily living. An occupation can be self-care, such as washing, eating or sleeping; productive, such as work, study, caring or domestic activities; and leisure, such as playing sports, hobbies or socialising.

We’re all different and so are the occupations that matter to us. They vary depending on our environment, interests and values, talents and skills. Our occupations also change throughout our lives.

Why do occupations matter?

Occupations are essential to living. They give our lives meaning, purpose and structure. They help shape who we are, connect us with others and help create our identity and sense of belonging. Through occupation we enhance our health and quality of life.

Focusing on occupation leads to improvements in our ability to do the things we need and want to do, our social relationships, communication and connections as well as our mood, rest and sleep.

Occupations are particularly important when we’re going through times of change. When we can’t do an occupation anymore or we need to adjust the way we do it, because of ill health or other barriers, our sense of self and purpose may change. This is where occupational therapy comes in.


You can find out more about the week and more information on occupational therapy on the Royal College of Occupational Therapy website.