The occupational therapy process involves the assessment and treatment of problems in occupational status. Assessment entails the sensing and defining of patients’ problems and is accomplished through diagnosis. As a process, diagnosis involves the creation of a clinical image of the patient through cue acquisition, hypothesis generation, cue interpretation, and hypothesis evaluation. This sequence of cognitive activities is called diagnostic reasoning. As a product, diagnosis summarizes a patient’s occupational deficits in terms of occupational role performance, occupational performance, and the components of occupational performance. To serve adequately as a basis for planning intervention, the occupational therapy diagnosis describes the problem, explains the potential cause of the problem, gives the cues whereby the problem is recognized, and names the pathologic agent. Occupational therapy assessment is broader than diagnosis and includes a delineation of the patient’s assets as well as deficits. In the resolution of problems in occupational status, assets may be used to offset deficits. The clinical image represents a balanced view of occupational status by reflecting assets and deficits.

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