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Psychiatric treatment is never in the hands of a single person. Mental health treatment is a collaborative effort between the psychiatrist, occupational therapist, individual and his or her support system. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to engage people in some sort of activity to enhance their ability to lead a meaningful life. This need not be restricted to work but can include simple things like cooking, exercising, painting etc.
To understand what kind of treatment a patient needs, an occupational therapist will first assess the person, their needs and concerns. They understand how an illness or a particular life event can impact a person's ability to perform routine tasks. The counselor and therapist will then work together with the patient to explore possible lifestyle changes and set goals related to this. These changes are centered around the patient's strengths and preferences and take into consideration the occupations that are the most meaningful to the patient. An occupational therapist can then help the patient develop the necessary skills and find ways to make their daily lifestyle easier to handle. Thus, their lives become meaningful and satisfying and they feel a sense of achievement.
Occupational therapists also address social barriers towards the rehabilitation of a person in a community. This is done through interventions that focus on building the patient's existing skill set, creating opportunities for social integration, preventing a relapse and modifying the environment. Some of the barriers it addresses include:
- Stigma: By providing the patient with an opportunity to master a skill, occupational therapy boosts self confidence. This helps address the stigma against people with mental difficulties being able to form strong interpersonal relationships.
- Safety: A person suffering from a mental disorder is often understood to not be able to take care of himself. By helping the patient create routines for himself and giving him the confidence to perform daily tasks like cooking etc, he is at a much lower risk of accidents than before.
- Socioeconomic status: By giving the patient the necessary skill set to hold a job and collaborating with employers and educators, an occupational therapist can help raise a person's socioeconomic status.
Occupational therapy can benefit any person diagnosed with a mental illness or who has recently undergone a traumatic accident. It can also benefit this person's friends and family who form his support system by teaching them how to balance their caregiving with daily responsibilities. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a specilized psychiatry and ask a free question.