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Introducing Occupational Therapy Europe


By Anu Söderström, President of Occupational Therapy- Europe 

Within Europe (as geographically identified by the Council of Europe), we have three bodies representing and working with Occupational Therapists across the patch.

The longest established is COTEC (Council of Occupational Therapists for the European Countries), representing Occupational Therapists in 32 countries, through the active membership of each country’s professional organisation.

These range from well-established bodies with many members to small membership organisations taking their initial steps in becoming their national representative of Occupational Therapy.

ENOTHE (European Network of Occupational Therapy in Higher Education) is also a well-established network of Educational establishments providing Occupational Therapy pre- and post-graduate qualifications, with a focus on the standards and quality of professional education.

ROTOS (Research in Occupational Therapy & Occupational Science) is a younger organisation – bringing together both established researchers and aspiring researchers to ensure that high quality research is reaching the broadest community in order to enhance both practice and education.

All three are legal entities, with constitutions, strategic frameworks and annual work plans, using partnership working to achieve their goals. Several years ago it became apparent that it would be helpful – both to the external environment and to all our members – to create an umbrella organisation which could be an obvious route to all things Occupational Therapy for Europe, and making the relationship between practice, education and research more overt and stronger.

The last couple of years have been interesting ones for the new OT-Europe Executive Committee. There is now a legally recognised Constitution, Rules of Procedure, Strategy and the financial mechanisms to take the organisation forward. For the first two years COTEC is taking the President role of the Executive Committee, ENOTHE leading on Secretarial functions and ROTOS managing the finances as Treasurer. These functions will then rotate between the three members over future years.

Our first Five-Year Strategy has been agreed and the work plan for the year finalised. When we were developing this, it became apparent that OT-Europe is keen to be active where there are issues that transcend practice, education and research individually and where there is impact through the greater numbers of Occupational Therapists reached through our three bodies. We are always eager to work with and through our partners as we have many shared ambitions for our members, service users and communities.

One of the immediate issues that OT-Europe had to make a decision on, was the delivery of the 2020 COTEC-ENOTHE Congress, and in order to keep delegates and presenters safe from any COVID-19 health issues and acknowledge concerns about travel, the Congress has been postponed till 2021. As has been the case for many organisations, we have agreed that this will be a virtual Congress and up to date news on this is available on both COTEC and ENOTHE websites.

We also, as an Executive, spent time considering which of our partner organisations and relationships should continue to be held by each individual organisation and which we should migrate to link directly to OT-Europe. When we looked at the breadth of the Health First Europe agenda and its strategic direction as a non-profit making, non-commercial alliance of patients, healthcare workers, academics – and others – the fit definitely was an OT-Europe one – as we both look to transform health and healthcare through innovative solutions.

So – Occupational Therapy Europe looks forward to continuing the work started by COTEC with Health First Europe, especially at this time, when strong relationships and partnerships are needed to ensure that we all contribute and benefit together for a better, healthier future.