Christine Helfrich, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Dr. Helfrich is an adjunct instructor at Bristol Community College, Fall River, Massachusetts and Co-Investigator Project Team, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Helfrich describes her research in this way: "My research is community based with vulnerable populations including individuals who are/have been homeless, survivors of domestic violence and their children and individuals with mental illness. Working with these populations I have completed needs assessments, developed interventions and evaluated outcomes." (Retrieved on June 4, 2015 from https://www.linkedin.com/pub/christine-helfrich/83/b19/1b7.)
Q and A
Identify three words that others have used to describe you.
Innovative. Collaborative. Generous.
How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
I would like my work to support occupational therapists to assist individuals, particularly those who are marginalized, to develop the skills they need and a sense of their own competence and worth so that they are free to be themselves and do what is important to them.
What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
Don't be afraid to do what you believe is important, the most motivating words to me are "You won't be able to do it." Focus on an area that you are passionate about, so that when you encounter internal or external barriers, you will be motivated to keep going.
Beside your own areas of inquiry, what is one research priority that you believe is important for the future of occupational science and occupational therapy?
The field needs to continue to educate others about the importance of occupation and that involving human beings needs to be translational and community based even if the tradeoff means smaller sample sizes. We must educate federal funders about the importance of our role in all areas of rehabilitation.
Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.
They believed in my ideas, encouraged my "non-traditional" applications of occupational therapy and supported my dreams and endeavors.
Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
Supporting my daughter to believe she can become whatever she wants and to be proud of who she is. Travelling and making every day an adventure!
What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research?
That my work has been more far reaching than I ever imagined and that it has helped a wide variety of people in a number of ways clinically and has supported the work of occupational therapists in various settings.
Chan, DV, Helfrich, CA, Hursh, NC, Sally, Rogers E & Gopal S. (2014). Measuring community integration using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and participatory mapping for people who were once homeless. Health and Place, 27, 92-101.
Chang, FH, Coster, WJ & Helfrich CA. (2013). Community participation measures for people with disabilities: a systematic review of content from an international classification of functioning, disability and health perspective. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 94, 771-781.
Helfrich, CA, Simpson, EK &Chan, DV. (2014). Change patterns of homeless individuals with mental illness: a multiple case study. Community Mental Health Journal, 50, 531-537.