Perfect these 3 Skills to Succeed in Any OT Setting

At first glance this list is a no brainer, but I challenge you to review how you are actually demonstrating your proficiency in these skills so that you are giving your clients the best therapy available.


#1. Perfect the OT Interview


I would reach to say this is the most important part of the OT process. The client/caregiver interview initiates your therapeutic rapport, sets the stage for the tenure of your treatment, and gives the client the opportunity to tell their story--for many an invaluable opportunity of which they have never been given.


Put yourself in your patient’s shoes. Have you ever been to see a healthcare provider who barely let go of the handle of the door during their visit with you? You walked out of the office and felt like you had basically wasted your time. You were given answers, sure, but you felt the practitioner had answers formed in their mind before they even talked to you to hear your questions.


Now imagine you have experienced some traumatic event as many of our OT clients have. You have been bounced from healthcare practitioner to healthcare practitioner with no real explanation of why or what to expect next. The answers you are given don’t add up, and you have come to believe no real hope exists to rehabilitate your symptoms.


And then you meet the occupational therapist. When he enters the evaluation room, he sits down. He explains why he is there and how he may be able to help you. He asks to hear your story. He listens. To the whole thing. He asks for details. He probes to know your hopes, your desires, your goals. He wants to know what you want to look differently in 3-6 months time. He then spells out a plan to help you to where you want to go.


Every time you perform an OT interview, you have the opportunity to change the direction of your client’s healthcare path.


I am not claiming that this will be every clients’ story. In fact, I would reckon to say that most of your clients will not have this story. Instead, they will arrive at your clinic after working with a caring and competent healthcare team.


Even still, a kind, compassionate, patient, and educational client interview may change the trajectory of their healing process.


Have a plan to gather the important information. You may find it helpful to create and use an interview template with questions outlined so that as the interview progresses, you can stay on track and gather the pertinent information.


A rough example of a written template may look like this:


1. Explanation of occupational therapy. This is where you do the talking. Provide a short introduction of yourself, your job, and the purpose of your visit.

  • What is occupational therapy? Why does the client need occupational therapy? What types of occupations are you assessing (ADL for skilled nursing and acute care; play and social participation in outpatient pediatrics; work and leisure in outpatient adults)?

2. “What brought you to therapy today?” (Or, What brought you to the hospital?)


3. “What concerns do you have?” “How long have you or your child been experiencing these symptoms?”


4. “How do these concerns affect your daily life?”


5. Tell me about home.


6. Ask about relevant home environment

  • who does the client live with

  • is assistance needed at home

  • home set-up--falls risks--adaptive equipment

  • Does the child have particular behavioral changes at home vs in the community?

  • One of my favorite questions: “Walk me through a typical day for you. You wake up in the morning, what happens next?”

7. Gather information about current level of function

  • ADL

  • IADL--work, volunteer, school participation

  • Leisure

8. “What are you hoping to get out of therapy?” “What do you want to look differently for you at the end of our time together?”

#2. Write measurable and appropriate goals


Yall. Measurable and appropriate. Not the froo-froo nonsense goals we have come to believe trick the insurance companies into believing we are making progress when we’re not. I know you have seen what I’m talking about. You may have written a nonsense goal. I know I have written many of them. I felt that they were beautiful goals until I went to write the progress notes and realized I had no way to measure if we had actually made progress or not.