Mental Health Occupational Therapy



What is the difference between a Psychologist and Mental Health Occupational Therapist?

We work with a remarkable and diverse team of Mental Health Occupational Therapists (MHOTs) who share many of the same counselling approaches as our Psychologists. Some of our clients have asked us about the differences between the two occupations and have wondered if they will be supported at Little Window in the same way.

It would be easy to think of a Mental Health Occupational Therapist as doing “psychology plus a bit more”, which is certainly accurate in many ways. MHOTs do share many skills and approaches with Psychologists, utilising treatments such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Neurobiological interventions, Attachment Theory, Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural approaches, expressive and creative-based therapies, and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. Medicare has recognised that MHOTs are able to provide the same supports as Psychologists under a Mental Health Care Plan, therefore individuals can claim a rebate in the same way.

A holistic approach to counselling with Mental Health OT

Mental Health Occupational Therapists have been trained use frameworks that seek to understand the whole person, including their internal and external experiences from a neurobiological and psychosocial perspective. This includes exploring the individual as well as their physical, social, work, cultural and spiritual environments across each aspect of their life.

Mental Health Occupational Therapy seeks to explore how you function within your meaningful occupations – which are the daily activities of productivity such as work and study, leisure and relationships that “occupy” your time and have meaning, value and purpose for you. A MHOT will explore with you how to recover, adapt and adjust to challenges you might have experienced, to manage and enhance your mental health and overall health, functioning and wellbeing.

As a client of a MHOT, you will receive support in having someone think with you about your emotional experience, have a safe space to make sense of your feelings and express them, and explore ways in which to move forwards in your life, both practically and psychologically. In seeking to understand the holistic experience of our clients, MHOTs consider themselves highly skilled in being able to identify and implement support specifically tailored to you and your unique and personal experience.

Occupational Therapists have education within anatomy and neuroanatomy, and utilising this knowledge, our MHOTs aim to provide both psychological interventions and counselling skills, while also seeking to understand you as a whole person: not just your brain, but your entire physical body, it’s inner workings, and how you function across all environments and occupations.

Our Mental Health Occupational Therapists (MHOTs) have particular interest and expertise in how our bodies hold and exert symptoms, and with this understanding they can utilise sensory and holistic interventions to help with looking after your mental health, and improve your overall functioning and wellbeing.

Some particular areas that our MHOTs specialise in are outlined below:

Sensory interventions

Some of our MHOTs can specifically assist clients to understand their sensory needs and identify various ways to self-regulate and self-soothe. A MHOT can focus on how your body responds to thoughts, emotions, experiences, your environment, and relationships, and often uses sensory resources that can communicate directly to your body and help the nervous system to feel safe and soothed, supporting you to feel empowered within yourself.

Throughout each day, we experience and interpret our world largely through our senses (touch, sound, smell, taste, sight, movement, the pull of gravity and body awareness). Research has shown that people who are experiencing a range of mental health concerns may have difficulties with processing this information through their senses. Therefore, incorporating sensory strategies with talk or creative therapies, can help to calm an anxious mind and body, and ground oneself during times of distress or challenging emotions.

Executive functioning

MHOTs can also provide support with developing and improving executive functioning skills. Executive functioning refers to a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the mindful awareness and sense of control over how you behave.

These might include:

  • Paying attention.
  • Organising, planning, and prioritizing.
  • Starting tasks and staying focused on them to completion.
  • Understanding different points of view.
  • Regulating emotions.
  • Self-monitoring (keeping track of what you're doing).

If this therapy approach resonates with you, you can connect with one of our wonderful MHOTs by contacting the Little Window Client Support Team, who are clinically and intuitively trained to match you and your unique needs with the right therapist.


lighthouse window


We would love to hear from you and would be honoured to support you in your journey to wellness.