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Advertising in Occupational Therapy Practice


Riley is starting a private practice to provide occupational therapy services to children and families. She is planning to provide individualized services and start a group therapy program for parents who have toddlers with feeding challenges.

She would like to advertise her practice with local primary care providers and community child care centres. Riley is also part of an online chat group for mothers in her personal time and is hoping to use her online connections to promote her services.

Riley reviews the Private Practice guidance document and contacts the COTO practice resource service to get further clarification about advertising her practice.


Advertising Regulation

  • Advertising health care services, such as occupational therapy, requires consideration of additional factors.
  • Occupational therapists (OTs) are held in a position of trust by the public, and clients seeking occupational therapy services can be vulnerable. Therefore, OTs are required to follow the Ontario Regulation 226/96: General – Part V, Advertising to ensure that advertising approaches are honest, truthful, transparent, and professional. The advertising regulation supports the public in making informed choices about their occupational therapy services.
  • As noted in the regulation, information in advertisements must:
    • be accurate and factual,
    • be verifiable by the occupational therapist,
    • be understandable to its intended audience,
    • not be misleading by either omitting relevant information or including non-relevant information,
    • not contain any testimonial, comparative or superlative statements indicating the practice is superior to other practices, and
    • not reference a specific brand of drug, device, or equipment.

Direct Pressure Sales or Solicitation

  • Occupational therapists must not directly solicit clients using pressure tactics such as cold calls, robocalls or unsolicited mass mail campaigns. 
  • Occupational therapists may share information about their business, via letters, pamphlets or other platforms, with:
    • third party referral sources, who are not directly receiving the health care, such as institutions, insurance companies, or lawyers.
    • interested parties within the area of practice to increase awareness of the services offered.


  • Occupational therapists providing fee information in their advertising must be transparent about the all the costs of the service(s), including any applicable taxes and conditions to the advertised price.
  • Clients have the right to know what is and is not included in the advertised fee and should not be misled by having access to partial information. 
    • For example, if fee information is included in advertising for an occupational therapy assessment, it would be important to note if there are costs for other related services.
    • Additional fee information should be provided, or the reader should be directed to another location where they can access information about specific fees.

Professional Responsibility

  • The occupational therapist is responsible for taking reasonable steps to ensure that advertisements about their practice are in compliance with the regulation. This includes advertising that is done by another person on their behalf, such as an employer.
  • Occupational therapists should take steps to prevent any conflict of interest as well as manage any potential professional boundary violations.
  • The regulation also applies to social media advertisements for occupational therapy services. 


To help occupational therapists assess whether their advertisements are in compliance with the regulation, a few examples are provided of what is and is not acceptable in advertising. The list is not intended to be exhaustive*.


  • Factual and clear statement of the service(s) offered
  • Contact details of the occupational therapist, such as email, website, and telephone number
  • Statement about fees charged, billing arrangements or other insurance plan arrangements and payment methods accepted.
  • Statement regarding the registration of the occupational therapist with COTO. This information must include the therapist’s name as it appears on the College Register.
  • Statements that refer to the benefits of occupational therapy and not to a particular occupational therapist.


  • Statements that create or likely to create unrealistic expectations about the effectiveness of the services advertised.
  • Statements or claims that guarantee the success of the service(s) provided.
  • Uses endorsements or testimonials.
  • Contains fee information that is inaccurate or fails to specify conditions to an advertised price.
  • Uses superlative terms such as “state of the art”, “cutting edge”, etc. when referring to a particular service or product used.

*Adapted with permission from the College of Naturopaths of Ontario, Guidelines Advertising, 2017


  • Riley designs a promotional brochure that she can disseminate to referral sources, containing her name, title and designation and the type of service she can provide. The brochure directs the reader to her website for more details about her company and fees for services.
  • She is aware that there are potential conflict of interest and professional boundary issues with promoting her private practice in the online chat group. She decides to create a business social media account separate from her personal account to post information about the occupational therapy practice.
  • She enlists legal consultation to help her develop advertising and social media policies for her business.




If you have any questions about this case, or have any ideas or requests for future cases, contact the Practice Resource Service: 1.800.890.6570/416.214.1177x240 or [email protected].

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