Crafting, Creating and Occupational Therapy

Crafting, Creating and Occupational Therapy

Why is “crafting” a great activity for a person with a disability, and why is it part of Occupational Therapy?


Well, let me shed some light on that question.  As a practicing Occupational Therapist, let’s consider the “why” in choosing crafts. It truly does go back to the roots of Occupational Therapy. The use of crafts as a purposeful activity, in the beginning, was used with a diversional purpose, to take an individual’s mind off of an injury or their negative thoughts. 

It is not only “crafting” but the participation in a specific task.  The purpose is functional, either for skill or leisure.  These “occupational” skills developments help with many abilities. Hand skills, perceptual skills, cognitive skills, psychosocial skills to name a few promote a greater skill level in many functional daily living skills tasks. 

And, while participating in these crafting tasks, the activity in itself, provides a framework for engaging with others.  It also provides an avenue for improving skill level, important for active participation in chosen tasks, or requested tasks in the work or home environment.  By providing opportunities to engage with a task such as a craft skill, the experience provides the ability to gain greater function which may lead to increased work skills, daily living skills performance with decreased assistance and just to have fun! If these tasks are of their own choosing, as we give them choices, the desire is there to engage with this activity of crafting.  In Occupational Therapy, possibilities could be endless when adapted and modified to meet their level of skills.

 When we think of crafting as a tool in our therapy toolbox to help others, we found a definition of crafting from the Oxford Language Dictionary, and it stated that crafting is – “the activity or hobby of making decorative article by hand, and “crafting has emerged as a fashionable form of self-expression”. As we look even further, the idea of using a craft – making something by hand, can be supported for many adults with varied disabilities. By modifying and adapting the strategies and materials used, the access to these tasks are made available to the individual.   We can think of “occupation” as in being occupied, the activity that one is engaged in, or the business of an individual’s life.  For some, this is being part of a community – a crafting skills community.  By participating in the craft or creative skill, connecting their brain and body, continueing to develop skills, just being introduced to creative processes,  and possibly employment if that is a chosen outcome.  Through this process they can promote their skills, an outlet for their own creative mark without the focus on their disability.

What is the meaning of the word creativity?  Creativity is the ability to make something new, putting your own creative spin in this case, the crafting project that an individual has chosen to participate in.  Something new, unique and of their own creation. As we have stated before, for some, participating in art or crafting is their occupation.  For many, it may allow connections with others and provide a purpose.  By creating, the individual can be engaged with others and the artist, or one who shares their art with those they know and new friends.   For others, following completion of the crafting, the sense of satisfaction is evident.  Even if those individuals require physical assistance, cueing and guidance, the ability to participate is a win-win for many.  As I have read, ART or CREATIVITY gives us life.

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