Find an occupational therapist

Occupational therapists can help people of all ages when physical and mental illness, disability, long-term condition, or the effects of ageing prevent them from doing the activities they need or want to do.

An occupational therapist will work with you to find different ways of carrying out activities regardless of how your circumstances are affecting you. We have a range of leaflets that explain how an occupational therapist can help in different situations.

Help finding an occupational therapist

Your first point of call should be to talk to your GP about contacting an occupational therapist locally. If you regularly see a social worker, nurse or other health care professional, they can also help you contact an occupational therapist via health or social services.

  • Be prepared to describe any difficulties that you have and how they are affecting your daily life, or the lives of those who care for you.
  • You may want to know how long it will be before you get an appointment, so remember to ask if there is a waiting list.

An independent occupational therapist works outside the national health and social care services, so there will be less waiting time, but these practitioners will charge for their services.

Search for an occupational therapist

You can search our online directory using either your location or the service you are looking for (occupational therapists nearest your location will be listed first). All the occupational therapists in the directory are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), are members of the British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT) and the Specialist Section and all have individual professional indemnity insurance.

We would suggest that, where possible, you should make contact with more than one occupational therapist and compare the information given. But please note the Royal College of Occupational Therapists cannot recommend any particular therapist or company.

All occupational therapists are required to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) before they can practice. The HCPC is responsible for the conduct, performance and ethical behaviour of its registrants. You can check that an occupational therapist is registered with the HCPC on their website.

If, for any reason, you would like to complain about an occupational therapist, please read our briefing: 'Complaints against occupational therapists' or contact the HCPC.

Questions to ask any practitioners you contact:

Can you confirm that you are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)?

The occupational therapist should be able to provide you with their HCPC registration number. This is usually in the form of OT followed by 5 numbers which you can check the HCPC website.

What is your experience in this area of work?

If the occupational therapist is saying that they have experience in a field of practice, ask them to describe the nature of the work that they have done and how long they have been doing it.

How much do you charge?

There is no set fee for an independent occupational therapist. Ask what they charge. Clarify if it includes or excludes travel or any other charges. Also ask if there will be additional charges for intervention, reports or other written information.

Will there be a contract for the services?

What is included in the contract? If you are asked to sign a contract, make sure you understand it.

What services will I receive?

Find out before you start what will be involved. Ask if you will be assessed and if so, how will this be done. Ask how any intervention will be agreed and how much you will be involved in this process. Find out what goals or targets will be set prior to starting intervention. Ask if the goals or targets will relate to functioning (for example, getting washed and dressed, making a meal, writing a document for work, doing your gardening). Also ask how long the intervention may last and how will you know you have reached your goals.

Are you happy to have an initial meeting?

Some therapists may meet with you to discuss your needs more fully before you agree any work. It is an opportunity for you to see if you think you will get on with the occupational therapist and for them to confirm that they are able to help you. Ask if there would be a cost to an initial meeting.

Will you travel to my home or workplace or community setting?

The most appropriate place to see the occupational therapist will depend upon your needs and the intervention being offered. You may have an initial consultation (either in person or over the phone) to establish your priorities and from this arrange the most suitable place for further assessment or intervention.

For example, if you:

  • Would like support to carry out tasks in the home, then the occupational therapist should see you in your home so they can suggest strategies or equipment which are suitable.
  • Need advice relating to your work then the occupational therapist should arrange the assessment with you in your workplace or other suitable environment depending on your needs.
  • Would like support to carry out activities within the community such as going shopping, socialising with friends in a local café or taking public transport, then the occupational therapist should see you in the community where the main issues are arising.
  • Check what the arrangements would be for seeing you in these settings and what additional costs there may be.

Will I get a report?

It is useful to confirm at the outset what written information you will receive, what is included in the price and what may cost extra. Ask if there will be a report outlining the results of the assessment and if it will outline goals which relate to what you will be able to do following occupational therapy involvement.

Also ask if the report will outline the intervention recommendations such as alternative ways of doing a task, using equipment to enable you to carry out a task, developing specific skills or maintaining/improving your current level of functioning. If you are seeking advice relating to your participation in work or volunteering, also ask if recommendations will be appropriate and suitable for the workplace.

Can you provide or give advice on any equipment that I might need?

They should also be able to advise you on any equipment that might be useful for you to have in your home or workplace and where this can be obtained or purchased.

Will you work with other occupational therapists if they are also involved?

Sometimes there will be an occupational therapist involved with you from health or social services. If this is the case, you may like to ask the independent practitioner if and how they will work together.