Questions to Ask Your Occupational Therapist

We expect our healthcare providers to ask thoughtful questions, but it is equally important that your questions are heard and answered.

Asking questions of your occupational therapist builds your relationship, facilitates your buy-in to treatment, and ultimately can help you get the most out of your care.

Man performing occupational therapy
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As a healthcare consumer, don’t be afraid to ask for a phone or in-person interview, before scheduling an initial evaluation. If you have already begun treatment, it is never too late to ask these questions of your OT.

Questions to Ask an Occupational Therapist

Below are important questions that you can ask your own occupational therapist.

How will OT help you get back to your everyday life?

Your occupational therapist should be focused on helping you participate in activities that are meaningful in your life. They should be taking the time to understand what daily activities are important to you and building their treatment around them. 

What can you be doing outside of therapy?

Through occupational therapy, your therapist should empower you to take ownership of your progress. Healing is not something that happens in 45-minute increments, three times a week. You should leave each session with a clear understanding of what you can be doing outside of the treatment session to bolster your progress.

How will what is happening in the clinic carry over to your home?

One of the most common complaints about occupational therapy is that clients see amazing results in the clinic, but the results do not carry over to the home. Your OT should have a clear plan for translating the results into your home setting, where you can maintain the progress without their intervention.

Does your therapist have any specialized training in treating your condition?

Occupational therapists are licensed to work in a wide variety of settings with an even wider variety of conditions. It is important to find an OT who has experience working with your specific condition and who keeps up with their area of practice through continuing education.

Has research been published in the past five years to support your treatments?

You have the right to know the likelihood that what you're paying for will help. Not every technique has strict evidence backing it. The pool of research currently does not cover how particular treatments address each condition and demographic. But, your therapist should be skilled at analyzing the research that is available and applying it to your care.

How much will treatment cost?

An OT should be able to explain the cost of their services and why they are worth that figure. There should also be systems in place for helping you discern how much each session will cost, whether you are paying through insurance or not. Your bill should not be a surprise.

What are your alternatives to OT?

A good occupational therapist will want you to have the best care, even if it is not from them. This may look like helping you find a specialist when your situation is beyond their scope of practice. Or it might look like passing off your care to a massage therapist or personal trainer when you no longer require their level of skill. 

Does your therapist have any recommendations for reading up on your condition?

In the new age of healthcare information, part of your healthcare provider's role is to direct you past all of the Internet muck to reliable and authoritative resources. Their awareness of these resources will also signal whether or not they are keeping up with best practices.

By Sarah Lyon, OTR/L
 Sarah Lyon, OTR/L, is a board-certified occupational therapist and founder of OT Potential.