Occupational Therapy Treatment for High Acuity Agitated Psychosocial Patients

Keep Things Simple

  1. Breaking tasks down into smaller, manageable parts. This can make the task less overwhelming and increase the client’s sense of accomplishment.
  2. Making modifications to make tasks easier and more efficient.
  3. Providing clear and simple instructions for tasks.
  4. Using a step-by-step approach to teaching new skills.
  5. Encouraging the client to take an active role in their therapy and to set their own goals.
  6. Using a positive and encouraging approach to encourage the client to participate and to persevere through challenges.
  7. Providing feedback and reinforcement for progress.
  8. Keeping in mind the client’s cultural and personal background and adapting the therapy accordingly.
  9. Continuously assessing the client’s progress and adjusting the therapy plan as needed.

Provide Structure

  1. Setting clear and measurable goals: Identifying specific goals for the client and breaking them down into smaller, manageable tasks can help to provide a clear path for progress.
  2. Creating a schedule or routine: Establishing a consistent schedule or routine can help to provide a sense of structure and predictability, which can be particularly beneficial for clients with cognitive or mental health difficulties.
  3. Using visual aids: Visual aids such as pictures, diagrams, and schedules can be helpful for providing structure and for teaching new skills.
  4. Using activity analysis: Breaking down a task into smaller steps and teaching them in a logical order can help the client to learn new skills more effectively.
  5. Using positive reinforcement: Providing positive feedback and rewards for progress can help to encourage the client to continue working towards their goals, e.g., praise.
  6. Providing feedback: Giving regular feedback and coaching can help the client to stay on track and make progress.
  7. Encouraging independence: Gradually increasing the level of independence and responsibility can help the client to develop their skills and self-confidence for community re-integration.
  8. Providing support: Providing support and guidance when needed can help the client to overcome any obstacles and to continue working towards their goals.

Food and Drinks as Therapy

  1. Provide this to meet the needs of the client using snacks, foods, and beverages.
  2. Be aware of diet restrictions.
  3. Be aware that some items such as utensils may be used as weapons or for suicide.
  4. Meal preparation activities canprovide a sense of accomplishment, and can also provide an opportunity to socialize with friends and family.
  5. Food-related activities, e.g., gardening
  6. Nutrition education: educating the client about healthy eating and the importance of good nutrition can help them to make informed choices and improve their overall health and well-being.
  7. Social skills: eating together as a group can help to promote social skills and a sense of belonging and community.

Relaxing Music as Therapy

  1. Creating a calming environment: Playing relaxing music in the background can help to create a calming and soothing environment, which can be particularly beneficial for clients with anxiety, stress or insomnia.
  2. Relaxation techniques: Incorporating music into relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can help to enhance the effectiveness of these techniques.
  3. Improving mood: Listening to relaxing music can help to improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
  4. Enhancing cognitive function: Research has shown that listening to relaxing music can improve cognitive function, such as memory and concentration.
  5. Improving sleep: Playing relaxing music before bed can help to improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia.
  6. Encouraging movement and exercise: Incorporating relaxing music into movement and exercise routines can help to make these activities more enjoyable and increase participation.
  7. Enhancing socialization: Playing relaxing music during group activities can help to promote socialization and a sense of connection among participants.
  8. Improving communication: Incorporating music into communication therapy can help to improve the client’s ability to express themselves and to understand others.
  9. Encouraging self-expression: Using music as a tool for self-expression can be beneficial for clients with emotional and behavioral issues.
  10. Adapting to the person’s preferences: It’s important to take into account the person’s preferences and to use music that they enjoy, as this will increase the effectiveness of the therapy.

Keep it Short

  • We aren’t aiming for a clinical hour, e.g, 50 minutes, which is likely too long in the beginning for clients.
  • Allow rest breaks and the freedom to come and leave as needed.
  • Use breathing and other meditative techniques throughout the session to help regulate the client.

Other Tips

  • Keep it positive.
  • Make the environment comfortable.
  • Use sensory approaches.
  • Promote emotional regulation.
  • Practice and teach coping and relaxation skills.


  1. Yakov, S., Birur, B., Bearden, M. F., Aguilar, B., Ghelani, K. J., & Fargason, R. E. (2018). Sensory reduction on the general milieu of a High-Acuity inpatient psychiatric unit to prevent use of physical restraints: a successful open quality improvement trial. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 24(2), 133-144.