World Mental Health Day

Occupational Engagement and Occupational Balance: Research to Define the Role of Occupational Therapy

Each profession has carved out a role with the mental health of their clients. What is occupational therapy’s role?

As occupational therapy practitioners, our role is to ensure that we are engaging our clients in meaningful occupations as part of the recovery process. We also have the necessary practice skills and abilities to ensure occupational balance for ourselves and our clients (Backman, 2004).  

Two important research articles point to the importance of engagement in occupations and occupational balance on the well-being of our clients.

Engagement in Occupations:

Lack of engagement leads to occupational deprivation, which impacts clients to reaching their full potential (Townsend & Wilcock, 2004).

Importance of Occupational Balance:

 “Occupational balance is a relative state, recognizable by a happy or pleasant integration of life activities and demands. There are indicators of imbalance, more so than tangible ways to measure it, and once recognized occupational therapists have the strategies to help restore a sense of occupational balance.” (Backman, 2004, p. 208)

To provide the best performance in all that we do as a clinician or student, we also need to ensure we are engaging in meaningful occupations and refilling our cup to maintain occupational balance. To maintain my mental health, I run, read, write, and bake. I would like to learn to also sew and garden. How do you refill your cup after a day of taking care of clients or academic work to maintain your mental health?


Backman, C. L. (2004). Occupational Balance: Exploring the Relationships among Daily Occupations and Their Influence on Well-Being. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(4), 202-209. doi:10.1177/000841740407100404  

Townsend, E., & A.wilcock, A. (2004). Occupationaljustice and Client-Centred Practice: A Dialogue in Progress. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(2), 75-87. doi:10.1177/000841740407100203

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