About Specialist Sections

Specialist Sections are branches of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) that provide professional direction and leadership for occupational therapists working in specialist areas of practice.

Learn more about Specialist Sections with our induction event on the Royal College of Occupational Therapists Professional Networks. It provides key RCOT activists with an introduction to the organisation of RCOT, its roles and functions. It equips members with the tools to lead within their designated roles and is essential training for all new RCOT Regional and Specialist Section committee members.

Specialist Sections are branches of RCOT that provide professional direction and leadership for occupational therapists working in specialist areas of practice. They share information, network and promote good practice.

Which Specialist Section to choose?

Aims of the Specialist Sections:

  • Raise awareness and promote the development of knowledge and skills
  • Promote and enable Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
  • Promote research and support the use of evidence to inform practice
  • Disseminate information and provide communication networks
  • Support members new to the practice area
  • Function as a resource to provide expertise at national and local levels
  • Act as advisors and influencers for and on behalf of the profession and the Royal College
  • Promote membership

Why join a Specialist Section?

  • Gain access to a UK-wide network of occupational therapists working in your specialist area and opportunities to meet like-minded people
  • Obtain expert professional knowledge and resources to support you in practice
  • Receive up-to-date news via newsletters, bulletins, social media, website and journals
  • Attend conferences, learning events and study days for professional development
  • Obtain reduced Specialist Section membership rates for learning events
  • Access grants for research, professional development and events
  • Get information and advice from free publications dedicated to your area of practice, including briefings, evidence-based guidelines, advice, best practice information, research
  • Participate in the Specialist Sections Clinical Forums, which are dedicated, speciality sub-groups providing support, networking, clinical leadership and lobbying
  • Get involved with policy, practice, strategy, briefings, develop practice guidelines and leadership skills

Read our briefing which contains information and guidance to support the Specialist Section National Executive Committees.

Get involved

Join a Specialist Section to support your CPD

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can join a Specialist Section?

All Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) members can be members of the Specialist Sections.

Do I have to be a member of RCOT to be a member of a Specialist Section?

Yes, from 2008 and in agreement with all the Specialist Sections, you have to be a RCOT member in order to gain the benefits of the Specialist Section activities.

Can a student join a Specialist Section?

Yes and we would like to encourage more students to join. There are reduced rates for student members.

How much does it cost?

There is an annual fee to join a Specialist Section, but they do vary. You can claim tax relief on 75% of your RCOT fees if you are a UK tax payer and some cost as little as £3 a month.

Can I belong to more than one Specialist Section?

Yes, you can belong to as many Specialist Sections as you want.

How do I join?

You need to visit the respective, individual Specialist Sections web page you wish to join and then complete a membership form for that Specialist Section; there are a couple that you are able to join online.

  • Children, Young People and Families
  • HIV/AIDS, Oncology and Palliative Care
  • Housing
  • Independent Practice
  • Mental Health
  • Neurological Practice
  • Older People
  • People with Learning Disabilities
  • Rheumatology
  • Trauma and Orthopaedics
  • Work

How does RCOT support the Specialist Sections?

RCOT aims to ensure that all members who are involved in the Specialist Section activities have the support they need to make these branches work and function effectively. The Royal College meets twice a year with all the Specialist Sections to support and facilitate communication, debate, influence, development of policy and information exchange between RCOT and the Specialist Sections.

We have a number of resources to support the running of the Specialist Sections and these can be found on the Committee Resources pages.

Are there criteria for setting up a Specialist Section?

Yes, there is set criteria for developing a Specialist Section. If you belong to a network, group or forum that may have been established and running for several years, you can contact the UK Regional and Specialist Section Manager to consider what options may be available to develop the group. There may be a number of options available to the group, one of which may be to become a sub-group of a Specialist Section.

The criteria can be found in RCOT Briefing: information for Specialist Sections, Regional Groups and researchers (March 2016).