Occupational Therapy for Mental Health

At the Johns Hopkins Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, our occupational therapists specialize in helping patients with mental health disorders. Our occupational therapists are experts in performing behavioral health assessments, which offer insight into a patient’s condition. They have strong observation and creative problem-solving skills, and understand human development and function across different diagnoses.

Why Choose Johns Hopkins

an illustration of a light bulb in a brain

Patients may have challenges in the areas of planning tasks, organizing, problem solving and decision making. They may also have difficulties with controlling emotions, which can make it difficult to function and be independent in society. Occupational therapy can help improve on or compensate for these challenges. Our occupational therapists use standardized and nonstandardized screening and assessments to make recommendations for treatment, which may include: 

  • Patient and caregiver education
  • Practicing life management skills
  • Adapting tasks or environment to become more independent
  • Developing coping mechanisms to deal with emotional problems

Psychiatric Occupational Therapy Team

Our psychiatric occupational therapy team works closely with patients with mental illness. Our therapists help these patients improve their function in work, play, leisure, social life, self-care and community living skills. Our team is highly trained in assessing these skills and making recommendations for treatment and safe discharge.

Bobby Walsh, DBH, OTR/L, BCMH | Therapy Manager

AOTA Board Certification in Mental Health

headshot of Bobby Walsh

Tess Spence, MS, OTR/L | Clinical Specialist

headshot of Tess Spence

Helping Patients Enjoy Life to the Fullest

Our occupational therapists are trained to identify difficulties in performing daily activities. They help address these underlying problems through the activities listed above. Our team can work with patients and their loved ones to improve these and other life management skills:

  • Creating and following a productive daily schedule
  • Taking care of personal hygiene
  • Managing one’s own health
  • Navigating the community and using public transportation
  • Organizing and following a medication regimen
  • Interacting appropriately in work or social situations
  • Working or volunteering
  • Planning and cooking healthy meals
  • Managing budget and finances 

Developing Habits That Are Important to You

A therapist helping an old lady fold the laundry

Habit training was the first occupational therapy treatment model. It was introduced by Eleanor Clarke Slagle, with input from psychiatrist Adolf Meyer, when both worked at Johns Hopkins in the early 1900s. Habit training focuses on balancing activities in the areas of work, rest and play, which can be unbalanced in people with mental health disorders. When occupational therapy was fairly new, habit training was heavily focused on arts and crafts. Now, our updated approach emphasizes meaningful activities rooted in independent living and quality of life.

Request an appointment with one of our mental health occupational therapy experts to discuss how we can help you or your loved one.

Locations and Referrals

Our psychiatric occupational therapy team is based in The Johns Hopkins Hospital and offers both inpatient and outpatient services, as well as partial hospitalization. Contact us if you are looking to make an appointment or refer a patient.