Refugees & Asylum Seekers: Application

OT Role Fulfillment 

The application of OT with refugee and asylum seeker populations can be done through a variety of roles and approaches. Below are some examples and ideas to help you envision just a few of the possibilities. 


  • Include the topic of OT application with refugees and asylum seekers in your OT blog or podcast
  • Compose articles or create educational resources and submit to OT websites, magazines, or journals
  • Share/disperse resources on social media platforms or at your facility to provide information regarding refugee and asylum seeker issues
  • Create a Facebook group, youtube channel, podcast, or other social media account that focuses on advocacy for OT's involvement with the refugee and asylum seeker populations


  • Provide guidance to students on how to navigate a non-traditional community-based practice area
  • Educate on grant writing specific to OT and a community setting to better prepare students
  • Include information on OT's role with refugee and asylum seeker populations in OT curriculum
  • Provide information on the needs of the homeless population to students as a fieldwork educator or professor
  • Create fieldwork opportunities with refugee and asylum seeker populations for OT students


  • Create your own consulting business to serve the refugee and asylum seeker populations
  • Create an NGO that raises funds to support OTs serving the refugee and asylum seeker populations
  • Create and sell a toolkit for OT practitioners with resources regarding the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers
  • Write and sell a book on the refugees and asylum seekers populations and OT application
  • Create and sell an educational phone/tablet application for OT's

Leadership / Administration

  • Present at national, state, or local conferences on the unique needs of the refugee and asylum seeker populations
  • Become a leader with AOTA or your state association who focuses on matters related to the homeless population
  • Create resources that are specific to the refugee and asylum seeker populations and share with other OT practitioners

Policy Developer

  • Support and promote legislation that supports positive occupational engagement for the refugee and asylum seeker populations
  • Propose and advocate for OT's recognition as a qualified mental health provider in your state (if not already)
  • Propose and advocate for OT services inclusion within federal grants/funds at local community centers serving these populations and at detention centers


  • Conduct research while practicing as a direct service provider, consultant, or volunteer at a local organization with refugees and asylum seekers
  • Conduct a national/international research project to identify the current practices and applications of OT services with these population
  • Conduct research on refugees and asylum seekers to identify common unmet needs for all realms of health and wellness 


  • Lead life skills groups at community or detention centers 
  • Lead educational trainings for existing staff at detention or community centers to maximize services and minimize occupational deprivation
  • Identify gaps in services for the refugee and asylum seeker populations at local organizations currently serving them and address them
  • See treatment ideas below

Direct Service Provider

  • Conduct assessments and facilitate skill development in a one-on-one approach 
  • Create opportunities to engage in client-identified meaningful occupations that support identity expression and transition into a new culture 
  • Assist in transition preparedness
  • Volunteer to serve these populations
  • See treatment ideas below 

Suggested Frames & Models

  • Canadian Model of Occupational Performance and Engagement (CMOP-E)
  • Ecology of Human Performance
  • KAWA Model
  • Model of Human Occupation (MOHO)
  • Person-Environment-Occupation Model (PEO)
  • Person-Environment-Occupation-Performance Model (PEOP) 

Suggested Assessments

  • Activity Card Sort
  • Activity Index
  • Adolescent Leisure Interest Profile
  • Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile
  • Assessment of Living Skills and Resources-Revised 2 (ALSAR-R2)
  • Assessment of Motor and Process Skills (AMPS)
  • Barthel Index
  • Battelle Developmental Inventory
  • Bay Area Functional Performance Evaluation (BAFPE)
  • Bayley Scales of Infant Development, 3rd ed.
  • Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI)
  • Beck Depression Inventory (BDIII)
  • Berg Balance Scale
  • Canadian Occupational Performance Model (COPM)
  • Child Occupational Self-Assessment (COSA)
  • Clinical Observation of Motor and Postural Skills (COMPS2)
  • Cognitive Assessment of Minnesota (CAM)
  • Cognitive Performance Test (CPT)
  • Comprehensive Occupational Therapy Evaluation Scale (COTE Scale)
  • Coping Inventory
  • Empowerment Scale
  • Executive Function Performance Test (EFPT)
  • Family Needs Scale
  • Functional Independence Measure (FIM)
  • Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS)
  • Hamilton Depression Rating Scale
  • Hawaii Early Learning Profile Revised (HELP)
  • Interest Checklist
  • KATZ Index of ADL
  • Life Balance Inventory
  • Magazine Picture Collage
  • Mini-Mental State Exam
  • MoCA
  • Model of Human Occupation Screening Tool (MOHOST)
  • Occupational CIrcumstances Assessment-Interview Rating (OCAIRS)
  • Occupational Performance History Interview (OPHI-II)
  • Occupational Questionnaire (OQ)
  • Occupational Self Assessment
  • Participation and Environment Measure for Childen and Youth (PEM-CY)
  • Peabody Developmental Motor Scales (PDMS)
  • Pediatric Volitional Questionnaire (PQV)
  • Role Checklist (RC)
  • Social Interaction Scale (SIS)
  • Task-Oriented Assessment (TOA)
  • Volitional Questionnaire

Treatment Ideas

   ADLs and IADLs

  • Acquisition and maintenance of personal devices (hearing aids, glasses, contacts, prosthetics, mobility devices, etc.)
  • Acquisition and management of a bank account
  • Acquisition and utilization of communication and technological devices (cellphones, computers, tablets, adaptive devices, etc.)
  • Acquisition of driver license and car insurance
  • Acquisition of health insurance
  • Acquisition of necessities such as food, clothing, toiletries, etc. (where to go, how to navigate, how to apply for assistance, etc.)
  • Address physical deficits or injuries that impede participation in occupation (may be resultant from torture or lack of access to healthcare previously); refer out as needed
  • Available community resources and procedures of utilization (library, public transportation, etc.)
  • Budgeting skills
  • Caregiving information/techniques
  • Community navigation (crossing crosswalks, street rules, etc.)
  • Cultural norms for dating
  • Cultural norms for grooming, bathing, dressing
  • Cultural norms for home maintenance
  • Cultural norms of interacting with law enforcement
  • Food safety practices
  • How to address emergency situations (call 911, fire extinguisher, hurricane preparedness, tornado preparedness, blizzard preparedness, etc.)
  • Manipulation of water faucets and drain plugs
  • Meal preparation utilizing locally available items
  • Medication management (with consideration for alternative medicine norms for client's culture)
  • Mental health (management of anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, trauma, etc.)
  • Pain management 
  • Paying bills
  • Religious participation
  • Safety awareness and utilization of home appliances (stove, refrigerator, microwave, washing machine, dryer, etc.)
  • Safety awareness as it pertains to water temperature
  • Sexual education and cultural norms for sexual participation
  • Utilization of grooming products (razors, clippers, hair styling tools, toothbrush, etc.)
  • Utilization of shower curtain


  • Available additional support resources
  • College enrollment, navigation, resources
  • Community organizations offering educational classes (cooking, language, etc.)
  • Cultural norms for activities such as parties, field trips, recess, etc.
  • Cultural norms for parent/teacher interaction and student/teacher interaction
  • Enrollment
  • Extracurricular activities (sports, theater, clubs, music, etc.)
  • Transportation to and from school

Play, Leisure, and Social Participation

  • Clubs
  • Continued engagement in prior leisure activities
  • Identification and utilization of community resources (local parks, playgrounds, libraries, churches, gyms, YMCA, etc.)
  • Identify existing and new interests
  • Senior centers
  • Sports

Sleep and Rest

  • Education of health benefits
  • Positioning
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Sleep hygiene
  • Sleep schedule
  • Sleeping arrangements
  • Time management

Work and Volunteering

  • ADA accommodations, if needed
  • Educate and assist in applying for employment
  • Educate on cultural norms surrounding work ethics
  • Identify vocational opportunities
  • Identifying existing and needed skill sets
  • Interview skills
  • New employee paperwork
  • Resume development
  • Vocational readiness