5 must-have qualities of an occupational therapist

Thinking of starting a career in occupational therapy? If you possess these 5 qualities then it could be the perfect role for you. Carry on reading to find out the must-haves for occupational therapists. 

  1. Interpersonal skills

In order to be constructive in helping patients, occupational therapists must possess interpersonal skills such as active listening, communication, empathy and good body language. This will help build a stronger working relationship and show the client that you are sincere and there to support them wherever you can. 

2. Strong communication 

As an occupational therapist, you will have to communicate with colleagues across all levels, so it is important to be clear and concise – especially when briefing other members of staff. You should also have an understanding of occupational therapy jargon to ensure seamless communication between colleagues.On the other hand, when communicating with patients, occupational therapists must simplify medical terms so that they are accessible to everyone; particularly important when the patient is a child. The more awareness the patient has of their situation, the more comfortable they will be opening up in sessions. Of course, you will have to adjust your communication style based on the patient, their condition/injury and their background. This will come with practice, don’t worry!

3. Organisation 

Creating a schedule that is in sync with your clients’ needs, which simultaneously allows time for paperwork is the key to maintaining productivity as an occupational therapist. We know it’s easier said than done, but being disorganised will only lead to increased stress and worse, distrust from your clients who are relying on you to offer continuous support. If you’re always turning up late, losing important documents and mixing up clients then it’s not going to be a great look…Talk to your colleagues and make sure your schedules don’t clash, colour code tasks by importance, label your folders with stickers – whatever it is that helps you stay on top of your workflow, do it!

4. Empathy 

Patients will likely need your support both mentally and physically and so it is vital for occupational therapists to be understanding and patient with their clients. Whether your patient is recovering from an operation, or struggling with their mental health, having someone who is willing to listen to their experiences and understand their perspective will do them a world of good. This will also help you to build a more personalised care plan as the client is more likely to share relevant information with you when they feel they are in a safe and nurturing environment. 


5. Analytically minded 

Observation and analysis is central to being an occupational therapist as it allows them to better understand their patients and find best-case outcomes. Therefore, being analytically minded is an essential skill for any successful occupational therapist. This means being able to read between the lines and evaluate how a patient is genuinely feeling – even if they do not explicitly share this information. 

Ready to apply? Get in touch with our team via email at [email protected] to find out more or browse our occupational therapist vacancies here