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The Association of Occupational Therapists was formed in 1936 and merged with the Scottish Association of Occupational Therapists in 1974 to form the British Association of Occupational Therapists or BAOT.

The BAOT and its predecessor has always acted as the representative professional organisation for occupational therapists in the United Kingdom. In 1978 it made the decision to register itslef as an independent trade union, and as with similar organisations, split itself into two. The BAOT continued, to undertake trade union activities on behalf of its members, and the College of Occupational Therapists was formed to carry out the educational and charitable functions. In 1993 BAOT affiliated itself with Unison, so that although it retains its independent status, the actual trade union services are provided by Unison.