The World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) began with formal discussions at a meeting of occupational therapists held in England in June 1951, at which there were 28 representatives from various countries. There was a continued discussion in September of the same year at the Congress of the International Society of the Rehabilitation of the Disabled held in Stockholm, Sweden.

A Preparatory Commission was held in Liverpool, England in 1952, attended by representatives from seven countries with occupational therapy associations or organizations and written approval for the organization of such an association from three other countries. These ten associations from the USA, United Kingdom (England and Scotland), Canada, South Africa, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, India and Denmark, inaugurated the WFOT. At this meeting, Ms Helen Willard of the USA served as temporary chairperson until the officers were elected. The first elected officers were � President, Ms Margaret B Fulton of Scotland; First Vice-President, Ms Gillian Crawford of Canada; Second Vice-President, Ms Ingrid Pahlsson of Denmark; Secretary-Treasurer, Ms Clare S Spackman of USA; Assistant Secretary-Treasurer Mrs Glyn Owens of England.

The Constitution was developed at the 1952 meeting and contained the following initial objectives:

  • to act as the official international organization for the promotion of occupational therapy;

  • to promote international cooperation among occupational therapy associations, therapists and other allied professional groups;

  • to advance the practice and standards of occupational therapy;

  • to help maintain the ethics and to advance the interests of the profession;

  • to facilitate the international exchange and placements of therapists and students;

  • to facilitate the exchange of information;

  • to promote the education and training of therapists; and

  • to hold international congresses.

In 1959 WFOT was admitted into official relations with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and in 1963 it was recognised as a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) by the United Nations (UN).



WFOT promotes occupational therapy as an art and science internationally. The Federation supports the development, use and practice of occupational therapy worldwide, demonstrating its relevance and contribution to society

The World Federation of Occupational Therapists and the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists: A collaborative venture
Anne Carswell

Retrieved from the World Federation of Occupational Therapists website http://www.wfot.org/

1954 WFOT Congress

1958 WFOT programme