THE PROFESSION OF AN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST
The occupational therapist is a healthcare professional who practices in the health and social sectors. His activity is defined according to the Anglo-Saxon term, occupation: “A group of activities that has personal meaning, is named within a culture and supports participation in society”. (ENOTHE : European Network of Occupational Therapy in Higher Education)
“Occupation can be categorised as self-care, productivity and/or leisure”. Occupational therapy aids a person or a group of people in a medical, professional, educational or social context.” (Decree of July 5, 2010 on the Diplôme d’État d’ergothérapeute [equivalent of a State Diploma in occupational therapy]).
The objective of occupational therapy is to maintain, restore and enable human activities in a secure, autonomous and efficient manner, thereby preventing, reducing or eliminating situations involving disability for individuals, while taking into account their lifestyles and environment. An occupational therapist is the intermediary between the patient’s adaptation needs and the requirements of daily life in society.
AN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST IS A PROFESSIONAL WHOSE PRACTICE IS BASED ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HEALTH AND HUMAN ACTIVITY
“An occupational therapist evaluates the wellbeing, injuries, and capacities of a person as well as his motor, sensory, cognitive, and mental capabilities. He analyses the needs, lifestyle, environmental factors, and situations involving disability, and provides a diagnosis.
The occupational therapist encourages the patient’s involvement in his environment and recommends technical aids, technological assistance, helpers, service animals and material modifications.” (Decree of July 5, 2010 on the Diplôme d’État d’ergothérapeute [equivalent of a State diploma in occupational therapy]).
As of 2016, the entire French territory (Metropolitan and Overseas France) has 10,417 occupational therapists, 6,017 of whom work in hospitals. The rest of the professionals either have a private practice or combine their private practice with working in hospitals (public and private). (Source DREES)
Ageing, increase in life expectancy and the gradual integration of persons with disabilities in ordinary settings have opened up new perspectives for professional practice. Thus the occupational therapist can practice not just in hospitals but also in rehabilitation centres, day clinics, medical-educational centres, mainstream educational institutions, homes, penitentiaries, emergency housing centres, and also work for schools, insurance companies, pension funds, etc.