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What to Expect From Your Occupational Therapist (OT)

What to expect from your occupational therapist 

When you seek the services of an occupational therapist (OT), you can expect to receive safe, ethical, quality care from a qualified professional who is registered (licensed) with the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario.

Occupational therapists are accountable to the College for the quality of care they provide and for their professional conduct.

Every occupational therapist practising in Ontario must meet the College's requirements for entry into the profession. The College’s programs and standards support quality and safety in the delivery of occupational therapy.

Only individuals who are registered with the College are able to call themselves occupational therapists and practise occupational therapy in Ontario. 

Considerations when hiring an occupational therapist

Any occupational therapist should ask you a series of questions to understand your needs and goals. It’s just as important for your questions to be answered, so that you have the information needed to make good decisions about your health and care. Consider asking or confirming the following:

Since occupational therapists work in a variety of settings, they will have different skills and experiences. Therefore, it is important to discuss your situation with your occupational therapist so they can tell you if they can help. Ask the occupational therapist about any knowledge and experience they have working with similar clients and how their training can help you meet your treatment goals.

  • Can you tell me about a time you worked with others in similar situations?
  • What kinds of treatment did you offer for past clients with similar challenges?
  • How often will we need to meet to achieve my treatment goals?

If the occupational therapist has the knowledge, skills and experience you need, ask if they are taking on new clients. If not, ask if they can refer you to a colleague, or if they have a waitlist.

  • Are you taking on new clients?
  • When is earliest date that I can begin working with you?
  • If you are not available, can you refer me to another therapist that can help me?
  • Can I be added to your waitlist if you have one?

Ask the occupational therapist if they know of any funding for the services (including insurance). If you will need to pay directly (up front or reimbursement through insurance), ask about payment schedules and acceptable forms of payment. 

  • Will I need to pay at every session, or do you send an invoice?
  • What are the acceptable methods of payment?
  • Do you provide direct billing to any insurance coverage I might have?

See our resource for information on Funding for Occupational Therapy Services.

Have the occupational therapist provide you a breakdown of their fees, including the cost of an initial assessment, follow-up visits, and charges for additional services such as phone calls, emails, reports, and any supplies or equipment.

  • Would you be able to provide me a list of your services and fees?
  • Are there additional costs associated with any supplies/equipment used for services?

Depending on your situation, treatment may be virtual (via phone or computer) or at your home or other location (work, school, etc.). For virtual therapy, your occupational therapist can help you set up any technology you may need. If you need community or home services, ask the occupational therapist if there are any additional costs associated with travel time or mileage.

  • Do you offer virtual or home-based services?
  • Are there any additional costs for you to travel to see me?
  • For virtual service, what technology and equipment will I need?

To properly support you, the occupational therapist may need a referral from your doctor or information from other health professionals involved in your care. The occupational therapist may benefit from speaking with them, with your consent. The occupational therapist may want you to sign a consent form as part of their informed consent process. If it will be easier for you, have the occupational therapist provide you with paperwork before the first session so you can review it and ask any questions. You may want to keep a copy of each form for your own records.

  • Can you send me any forms that I need to read and sign prior to treatment?
  • Are there any forms for me to sign to grant you permission to speak to other healthcare professionals on my healthcare team?

At any time you can tell an occupational therapist to stop services. The consequences of this decision will vary based on many factors, including the system in which the occupational therapist is working. However, when you have chosen your occupational therapist and hired them on your own, changing providers is your choice.

Before replacing any occupational therapist, however, you are encouraged to talk to them to see if any challenges can be resolved.

Accepted standards of care

Accepted standards are established and in place so you can be assured that your occupational therapist is dealing with you in a safe, competent and ethical way.

All the College Standards for Practice are available online.

The College supports the public’s right to safe, competent and ethical care by occupational therapists.
Everyone registered to practice in Ontario must follow the established standards for the profession.

These are the clear expectations for all members of the profession, covering everything from assessments to record keeping. The College also sets out the essential competencies (knowledge, skills and judgement) that occupational therapists need in order to practice. Along with those abilities, occupational therapists must also maintain professional ethics to put the needs of the patient/client above all else.

The College holds all registered occupational therapists accountable for their conduct and practice.

If you have questions, please contact

Practice Resource Service
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 416-214-1177 or 1-800-890-6570 ext. 240

Your rights as a client

As a client, you have rights around care, clarity, choice, consent, costs, confidentiality and complaints. 

In Ontario, the health care legislation and the standards of the regulatory colleges that govern these professions serve your interests by giving you essential rights.

Care: Occupational therapists and other regulated health care professionals have a duty to provide safe, competent and ethical care.

That means you can expect them to draw on and stay current with a high level of skills and knowledge, consider your well-being first, respect your choices and work with integrity. Part of good care means you have a chance to discuss your goals and feelings, and what you can achieve with occupational therapy.

Clarity: You have the right to ask your occupational therapist any questions about your condition, progress and courses of action, and receive explanations in plain language.

Culture: You can expect your occupational therapist to uphold your human rights and work with you to support your cultural and personal preferences.

Choice: You are in charge of your health, and always have the right to get a second opinion.

Consent: As part of choice, your occupational therapist is obliged to ensure your informed consent. That means you have to understand what will happen next, its benefits or risks and options, and agree or not.

Costs: You have the right to know exactly what you’re paying for, and your occupational therapist should explain any fees or billings.

Confidentiality: Your personal health information should remain private, shared only for the purposes of providing care to you.

Complaints: The College exists to safeguard the public. That gives you a way to raise concerns and formally complain about any aspect of the care you get from an occupational therapist.

The College’s Practice Resource Service can also answer questions about what you should expect from an occupational therapist.

Practice Resource Service
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 416-214-1177 or 1-800-890-6570 ext. 240

How to share concerns or make a complaint

There are people to answer questions and provide assistance and processes in place if you have concerns about the conduct or practice of your occupational therapist.

Learn more about sharing concerns or making a complaint or contact the College:

Investigations and Resolutions
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 416-214-1177 or 1-800-890-6570 ext. 220

Funding for occupational therapy services

When you are a patient in a health facility like a hospital or rehabilitation centre, occupational therapy services are publicly funded through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). However, when you go home, you may still need the help of an occupational therapist (OT) to resume or manage your daily activities, even if you don’t have a doctor’s referral.

Learn more about some of the ways you can pay for occupational therapy services depending on your circumstances and needs.

Additional resources

Watch videos 

Public Register: Find an Occupational Therapist

  • To confirm that an occupational therapist (OT) is registered, or to locate an Ontario occupational therapist, check our public register: Find an Occupational Therapist.

Practice Resource Service

Our Practice Resource Service is here to support you with your occupational therapy practice issues and questions. Whether you are an occupational therapist or a member of the general public, your privacy is important to us.