Deborah Pitts PhD, OTR/L, BCMH, CPRP, FAOTA
Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy
Deborah Pitts PhD, OTR/L, BCMH, CPRP, FAOTA is a professor of clinical occupational therapy in the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. Her practice expertise includes community-based mental health and psychiatric rehabilitation, in particular permanent supportive housing, and the ‘lived experience’ of recovery for persons labeled with psychiatric disorders, in particular occupational engagement and psychosis. She has provided consultation to local and statewide providers of community-based mental health and psychiatric rehabilitation services in California, and previously served as a CARF behavioral health surveyor. She has conducted numerous workshops and published in the occupational therapy, psychiatric rehabilitation and mental health literature on these topics as well. Her doctoral dissertation focused on practice reasoning of front-line service providers (i.e., Personal Service Coordinators) in a community-based mental health wrap-around program known as a Full-Service Partnership (FSP) serving persons labeled with psychiatric disabilities. More recently she has taken the lead for the Chan Division’s participation in the USC Homeless Initiative through her partnerships with local organizations providing services to persons experiencing homelessness to create student learning opportunities.
She has served in various volunteer leadership roles for the American Occupational Therapy Association including Mental Health Special Interest Section (MHSIS) Chairperson (2003–2006), MHSIS Professional Development Liaison (2006–2009), Chairperson for Adhoc Workgroup on Strengthening Occupational Therapy in Mental Health (2004–2005), Chairperson, AOTASB Expert Panel on Board Certification in Mental Health (2006–2009), Mental Health Representative, Board for Advance & Specialty Certification (2008–2009), and the AOTA Representative to the World Federation of Occupational Therapy International Advisory Group on Mental Health (2009–2014). Since 2018 she has served as the Co-Chair, AOTA Psychosis Community of Practice (CoP) and most recently was appointed to serve on the AOTA Occupational Therapy Advanced Certification Commission. In addition, she serves as a member of the California Behavioral Health Planning Council and the California Department of Health Care Services Behavioral Health Strategic Advisory Committee.
In acknowledgement of her long-standing commitment to advocating for the role of occupational therapy in mental health, she was the recipient of the 2011 Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) Practice Award and the 2017 OTAC Award of Excellence. In 2019, she was named to the Roster of Fellows of the American Occupational Therapy Association.