The CO-OP Approach™

Cognitive Orientation to daily Occupational Performance (CO-OP; CO-OP Approach™) is a performance-based treatment approach that can be used for children who experience difficulties performing the skills they want to, need to or are expected to perform. CO-OP is an active (not passive), highly customised, and client-centred approach that engages a child at the meta-cognitive level to solve performance problems.

The CO-OP Approach™ is internationally acclaimed by therapists and researchers. It is a therapy that guides individuals to independently discover and develop cognitive strategies, to enable individuals to do necessary tasks of daily living such as (but not limited to) dressing, grooming, writing, typing, and physical skills (including sports such as cycling and swimming). The objectives of CO-OP are: skill acquisition, development of cognitive strategies, generalisation of skills and strategies into daily life, and transfer of learning to new skills and contexts.

The CO-OP Approach™ is focused on enabling success and independence by employing collaborative goal setting, dynamic performance analysis, cognitive strategy use, guided discovery, and enabling principles. These elements are all considered essential to the CO-OP Approach™ and are provided within a structured intervention format. Caregiver involvement is also incorporated where appropriate.

Please note, the CO-OP Approach™ is not suitable for all individuals, and treatment suitability must be determined by a therapist. However, the populations that have been researched as benefitting from the CO-OP Approach™ include:

  • Acquired brain injury (ABI)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Cerebral palsy (CP)
  • Childhood-onset hyperkinetic movement disorders including dystonia
  • Developmental coordination disorder (DCD)
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Dyslexia
  • Older healthy adults with cognitive complaints
  • Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD)
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

CO-OP is an evidence based approach because:

a) Its theoretical foundations are based on research evidence;
b) As an intervention, it has been carefully researched with various populations, and is one of the most researched rehabilitation approaches (refer to this link for a summary of evidence sources: https://www.icancoop.org/pages/publications-1);
c) Therapists who use this approach (or elements of this approach) with individual clients conduct assessments and collect evidence over time as they are providing the intervention, to ensure that their clients are learning the most suitable cognitive strategies and are acquiring their desired skills; and
d) Research has repeatedly demonstrated its success as an intervention (watch this TED Talk video to hear about the success of the CO-OP ApproachTM from Occupational Therapy Professor Emeritus Helene Polatajko: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au6jwjTB1WI).

The above information has been sourced from: https://www.icancoop.org/pages/the-co-op-approach-1 in conjunction with training undertaken by Dr Micah Perez (Senior Occupational Therapist).

To become a certified CO-OP Therapist requires additional training. At Kids Matters Occupational Therapy, Dr Micah Perez (Senior Occupational Therapist) is a certified CO-OP Therapist, completing her training in 2022; and Vivienne Williams (Principal Occupational Therapist) and Michelle Cloete (Senior Occupational Therapist) became certified CO-OP Therapists in 2023. All other therapists have either received or will receive basic training to support their capacity and confidence to incorporate key elements of the CO-OP Approach™ (where appropriate) as a blended approach in conjunction with other approaches or treatment principles (e.g. trauma informed care, neurodiversity affirming approach).

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