The Occupational Therapy Model in Canada

In Canada, occupational therapists work with their clients to decide on intervention goals. This approach is called client-centred practice. It enables the client to identify the goals that are important to them. Client-centred practice is the foundation of Canadian occupational therapy practice.

Canadian occupational therapists use a systematic approach to their work based on evidence to enable individuals, families, groups, communities, organizations, or populations to develop ways and opportunities to identify and engage in the occupations of life. This collaborative process involves assessing, planning, implementing, monitoring, modifying and evaluating the occupational therapy client in relation to their engagement in self-care, work, study, volunteerism and leisure.

Occupational therapists use key enablement skills such as adaptation, advocacy, coaching, collaboration, consultation, coordination, designing/building, educating, engaging and specializing to enable occupation.

Occupational therapists may assume different roles, including advising on health risks in the workplace, safe driving for older adults, or programs to promote mental health for youth. Occupational therapists also perform functions as managers, researchers, program developers, educators, and practice scholars in addition to the direct delivery of professional services.

In Canada, occupational therapists are highly trained health-care professionals. Canadian entry level education requirements include a professional Master’s degree in occupational therapy.

A Day in the Life of an Occupational Therapist

Because occupational therapists in Canada work in so many different settings, there is no typical job. For example, an occupational therapist who works in a hospital has a very different job than an occupational therapist who may practice in clients’ homes or workplaces in the community.

When you begin to look for a job in Canada, you will see there are many available choices. This may include performing a complete and appropriate assessment of occupational performance; applying core expertise and professional reasoning; synthesizing assessment findings and reasoning to develop a targeted action plan; and, demonstrating skilled and selective use of occupation and interventions to enable occupation. Others may work as managers, researchers, program developers, educators, and practice scholars.

Clinical setting videos

These videos will provide internationally educated occupational therapists with insight into the range of clinical settings where occupational therapists in Canada work.

Katie works as an Occupational Therapist and Manager of a rehabilitation company that provides services to clients who have been involved in a motor vehicle accident (MVA).

Katie screen

Gordon is an Occupational Therapist and the Clinical Director of a program that provides outpatient services for individuals with schizophrenia.

  Gordon screen

Kathryn is an Occupational Therapist working in an outpatient brain injury clinic.

Kathryn screen  

Heather is a Clinical Specialist and Occupational Therapist working in a hospital-based neonatal follow up clinic.

Heather screen  

Baljit is an Occupational Therapist who works at a clinic that provides augmentative and alternative communication services using assistive technology.


Judy is an Occupational Therapist who works in an outpatient rehabilitation program providing services to children with neurological and developmental disabilities.
Judy screen  

Copyright 2016 Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists
powered by in1touch
100-34 Colonnade Road
Ottawa, ON K2E 7J6 Canada