Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

The World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) currently defines occupational therapy as a “client-centred health profession concerned with promoting health and well-being through occupation. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement” (World Federation of Occupational Therapists, 2013, p. 3).

This unit introduces students to the role, terminology and key concepts of occupational therapy including the type of occupations and the relationship between participating in occupations and health. Students will begin to develop therapeutic skills needed to communicate effectively and work collaboratively with clients to identify and achieve their goals. Students will also develop skills in professional reasoning and processes occupational therapists use with people and communities to overcome barriers and enable them to meaningfully participate in the activities they want and need to perform. The unit is practical and interactive and will enable students to develop foundational occupational therapy skills and commence their professional practice education.  

The overall aim of the unit is for students to develop an introductory understanding of the key foundational concepts, terminology and skills for occupational therapy practice.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Understand evidence-informed occupational therapy processes and practices used to enable individuals’ participation in meaningful occupations (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8)

LO2 - Evaluate self-care, productivity and leisure occupations across the lifespan, as well as barriers and enablers to participation (GA5, GA8)

LO3 - Analyse occupational performance and understand therapeutic use of occupations (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7)

LO4 - Demonstrate professional behaviours and communication skills including interviewing skills and working in a team (GA1, GA3, GA7, GA8, GA9)

LO5 - Reflect and evaluate their own professional practice skills and experiences (GA4)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018 developed within this unit are:

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

Standard 1 - Professionalism 

An occupational therapist practises in an ethical, safe, lawful and accountable manner, supporting client health and wellbeing through occupation and consideration of the person and their environment. 

An occupational therapist:

1.1 complies with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia’s standards, guidelines and Code of conduct

1.2 adheres to legislation relevant to practice

1.3. maintains professional boundaries in all client and professional relationships

1.5 practises in a culturally responsive and culturally safe manner, with particular respect to culturally diverse client groups

1.7 collaborates and consults ethically and responsibly for effective client-centred and interprofessional practice

1.8 adheres to all work health and safety, and quality requirements for practice

1.9 identifies and manages the influence of her/his values and culture on practice

1.10 practises within limits of her/his own level of competence and expertise

1.12 identifies and uses relevant professional and operational support and supervision

1.13 manages resources, time and workload accountably and effectively

1.14. recognises and manages her/his own physical and mental health for safe, professional practice

LO1, LO4, LO5

Standard 2 - Knowledge and learning 

An occupational therapist’s knowledge, skills and behaviours in practice are informed by relevant and contemporary theory, practice knowledge and evidence, and are maintained and developed by ongoing professional development and learning. 

An occupational therapist: 

2.1 applies current and evidence-informed knowledge of occupational therapy and other appropriate and relevant theory in practice 

2.2 applies theory and frameworks of occupation to professional practice and decision-making 

2.3 identifies and applies best available evidence in professional practice and decision-making 

2.9 maintains knowledge of relevant resources and technologies 

LO1, LO2, LO3

Standard 3 - Occupational therapy process and practice 

An occupational therapist’s practice acknowledges the relationship between health, wellbeing and human occupation, and their practice is client-centred for individuals, groups, communities and populations. 

An occupational therapist: 

3.1 addresses occupational performance and participation of clients, identifying the enablers and barriers to engagement 

3.2 performs appropriate information gathering and assessment when identifying a client’s status and functioning, strengths, occupational performance and goals 

3.3 collaborates with the client and relevant others to determine the priorities and occupational therapy goals 

3.5 selects and implements culturally responsive and safe practice strategies to suit the occupational therapy goals and environment of the client 

3.7 reflects on practice to inform and communicate professional reasoning and decision-making 

3.8 identifies and uses practice guidelines and protocols suitable to the practice setting or work environment 

3.12 uses effective collaborative, multidisciplinary and interprofessional approaches for decision-making and planning 

3.13 uses appropriate assistive technology, devices and/or environmental modifications to achieve client occupational performance outcomes 

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Standard 4 - Communication 

Occupational therapists practise with open, responsive and appropriate communication to maximise the occupational performance and engagement of clients and relevant others. 

An occupational therapist: 

4.1 communicates openly, respectfully and effectively 

4.2 adapts written, verbal and non-verbal communication appropriate to the client and practice context 

4.4 uses culturally responsive, safe and relevant communication tools and strategies 

4.10 seeks and responds to feedback, modifying communication and/or practice accordingly

LO4, LO5


Topics will include:

Introduction to occupational therapy theory and practice

  • History of occupational therapy
  • Understanding humans as occupational beings
  • Family of Participation Related Constructs
  • Occupations across the lifespan
  • Self-care
  • Productivity
  • Leisure
  • Impact of health conditions and disability on participation in occupations
  • Identifying barriers and enablers to participation in occupations 
  • Reflective practice
  • Introduction to evidence-based practice 
  • Introduction to occupational therapy practice process frameworks


  • Effective communication 
  • Interprofessional practice 
  • Planning and conducting a client interview
  • Person centred practice
  • Establishing a therapeutic relationship
  • Stages of therapeutic relationships

Activity and occupational performance analysis

  • Principles of analysing activities, occupations and occupational performance
  • Observation skills
  • Activity performance in an occupational context
  • Activity and environmental adaptations
  • Activity grading

Facilitating occupational performance

  • Professional reasoning 
  • Goal-setting

Practical skills for professional practice placement 

  • Introduction to manual handling
  • Mobilising in a wheelchair and using mobility aids
  • Hand hygiene

Professional behaviour and ethics

  • Ethical and professional behaviour for professional practice
  • Developing skills for lifelong learning and professional practice
  • Team functioning: Multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary practice
  • Mandatory requirements for professional practice

Time Use

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit will enable first year students to acquire, understand and then apply the key occupational therapy practice knowledge and skills. Learning and teaching activities for this unit include lectures to develop content knowledge followed by tutorials where students will apply learning. Students will also undertake self-directed learning outside of the class using resources available via the Learning Management System (LMS) and the library. Opportunities for experiential learning and professional placement experience enables students to integrate theory and develop occupational therapy skills relevant to professional practice. Students will be expected to develop their independent academic skills and to participate actively for individual and collaborative group activities. This learning strategy has been chosen for this unit in order to prepare first year students for the development of the academic and profession-specific knowledge, skills and values required to become an occupational therapist.

In this unit students will commence their professional practice experience. Students will complete mandatory pre-placement requirements to prepare them for professional practice placements. Students will link theoretical knowledge to the occupational therapy context by conducting interviews and exploring adaptation to occupation using assistive technology. Students will have the opportunity to observe occupational therapy practice

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks for this unit are linked in a developmental sequence.

Assessment 1 engages students through a multiple choice quizz and provides early formative feedback about key concepts and language.

Assessment 2 focuses on the acquisition of professional communication and self-reflection skills, relating the concepts of occupation to an individual. This assessment evaluates necessary foundational professional occupational therapy skills.

Assessment 3 moves the emphasis from acquisition and focuses instead on the understanding and application of occupational performance analysis by means of a small group collaboration and oral presentation.

Professional practice will be assessed on the student’s professional conduct, effective communication with clients and co-workers, and evidence of reflective practice.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1 Multiple Choice Quiz

To test knowledge of key concepts and terminology relevant to the occupational therapy profession



GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment 2 Written assignment based on interview

Enables students to demonstrate their introductory ability to plan an interview, apply interview skills, analyse information gained from an interview, evaluate occupations and reflect on their own performance.



LO1, LO2, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Assessment 3 Group oral presentation

Enables students to work collaboratively to demonstrate their ability to understand and apply the principles of occupational analysis and consider the therapeutic potential of an occupation.


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Hurdle 1 – Professional practice requirements/eligibility




Hurdle 2 - Evidence of completion of professional practice hours, submission of timesheet and reflection 




Representative texts and references

Christiansen, C. H., Baum, C. M., & Bass, J. (Eds.). (2015). Occupational therapy performance, participation, and well-being (4th ed.). Slack, Inc.

Curtin, M., Egan, M., & Adams, J. (Eds.) (2017). Occupational therapy for people experiencing illness, injury or impairment: Promoting occupation and participation. (7th ed.) Elsevier. 

Hersch, G. I. (2005). Activity analysis: application to occupation (Fifth edition. ed.). Slack.

Radomski, M. V., & Latham, C. A. T. (Eds.). (2014). Occupational therapy for physical dysfunction (7th ed.). Wolters Kluwer Health.

Scaffa, M. E. (2014). Occupational therapy in community-based practice settings (2nd ed.). F.A. Davis.

Schell, B. A. B., & Gillen, G. (2019). Willard and Spackman's occupational therapy (13th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.

Stedman, T. L. (2012). Stedman's medical dictionary for the health professions and nursing (Illustrated 7th ed.). Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Thomas, H. (2015). Occupation-based activity analysis (2nd ed.). SLACK Incorporated.

Townsend, E. A. (2013). Enabling occupation II : advancing an occupational therapy vision for health, well-being, & justice through occupation (2nd ed.). CAOT. 

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