Little Ways to Make Your Occupational Therapy Sessions More Effective 

February 18th, 2015 by

Therapist Assisting GirlFrom time to time, all therapists have a session that doesn’t go as planned. Sometimes your client isn’t feeling well enough to complete your planned activities, or they may have poor attention and lack full engagement if it’s the end of the day.

Or maybe you’ve overscheduled clients and are dragging your feet, decreasing your patience and enthusiasm.

Know Your Client’s Daily Routine

When you are scheduling your client in the morning, know when they will be able to perform at optimal ability.

Do they need to take pain meds? If so, make sure they’re in effect while you are working on upper extremity strengthening during therapy.

Does your client have more emotional behavioral issues in the late afternoon when they’re fatigued?

I had a client in an elementary school who started to get grumpy every time I pulled him out from class and reluctant to start our activities.

When I looked into his schedule, I eventually found out I had scheduled him at the same time of his favorite special class – hip hop dance – so he was missing it every time.

He was bound to be in a negative mood before we even started therapy, no matter how welcoming I was or what fun things I had planned for that day.

You can’t please everyone, but if you want your work to be effective, it’s at least worth considering the changes you can make to improve your client’s ability to succeed.
Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate!

You could be doing great work with your client for 30 minutes every week, but if you’re not educating a client’s family or other providers on how they can carry over your tips, you’re forgetting a huge piece that can only help!

By taking a few moments to educate others, our role as OTs, we can significantly maximize our effectiveness.

If we tell Jerry’s wife to encourage him to button using the button hook instead of doing it for him, we are increasing his independence every day instead of just on the days when we see him.

And it’s not only you spreading professional knowledge – be an active listener during these collaborations. You can gain insight from the speech therapist, teacher, or father on a tip to consider the next time you see your client.

Be Attentive to Yourself

Sounds simple. But with any human service or clinical field, burnout must be delicately avoided. But how can we perform well, be receptive and patient if we’re overstressed, restless, and concerned about something happening outside of that moment with our client?

Occupational therapists know the importance of daily habits and mental, physical and emotional wellness – we can’t forget to value these in ourselves too.

Know what’s important to you and make time for that. Make it home in time for dinner with your family, schedule something fun during busy weeks, and go for that run before you finish your paperwork for once. You’ll be more likely to smile the next day and ready to give a little more after you’ve cared for yourself.

How do you ensure your sessions are most effective? What changes have you made that improve the quality of your sessions? Share in the comments below!”

About the Author:

Laina Karosic

Laina Karosic, OTR/L, graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in Rehabilitation and Human Services. She then completed her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy at Ithaca College. She has worked with children and adults in clinics, homes, schools and community-based settings. Laina presented at American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA’s) national conference in 2014 discussing the role of Occupational Therapy in Sustainability. The emerging practice area of ergonomics is a particular niche of hers, and she is continuing competency and certifications within this area.

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