Sarah Bream OTD, OTR/L (she/her/hers)
Associate Chair of Operations, Community Partnerships and Development; Director of the Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy Program; and Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy
Dr. Sarah Bream is Associate Chair of Operations, Community Partnerships and Development; Director of the Post-Professional Doctorate of Occupational Therapy program; and Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy. She has been an occupational therapist for nearly 30 years and teaches graduate courses on mental health, community-based program development and leadership. Dr. Bream oversees the PP-OTD doctoral residency program, in which more than 80 post-professional residents pursue advanced leadership development in the areas of research, pedagogy, clinical practice and policy and administration. Her passion in this role centers around the development of new and sustainable roles for occupational therapy that create an impact at the community level by promoting access, inclusivity and the overall health of communities.
Prior to her appointment at USC, Dr. Bream served as Division Director for 12 years in the non-profit sector at Occupational Therapy Training Program. Within this leadership role, Dr. Bream oversaw all daily operations, grant development and a staff of more than 100 interdisciplinary professionals providing mental health services to children, adolescents and families living in underserved communities across Los Angeles. Dr. Bream’s clinical expertise has focused primarily on mental health, in particular children, adolescents and young adults. Additional expertise includes inpatient psychiatry, acute care and cardiac rehabilitation.
Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
2009 | University of Southern California
Master of Arts (MA)
in Occupational Therapy
1996 | University of Southern California
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
in Art History
1994 | Moorhead State University
Padilla, V., & Bream, S. (2022, October 1). Behind closed doors: Domestic violence & COVID-19 pandemic. OT Practice. Full text
Aldrich, R. M., Bream, S., & McLaughlin Gray, J. (2022). Course creation as a response to intersecting pandemics: Enhancing students’ abilities to leverage and mobilize an occupational perspective. Journal of Occupational Science, 29(3), 441-450. https://doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2022.2061038 Show abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020, as did calls to bring an occupational perspective to an evolving situation. However, the role of occupation-focused education in facilitating responses to the global crisis was missing from this dialogue. This paper aims to address that gap by describing the development of a new course delivered at the University of Southern California in 2020 and 2021. Grounded in occupational science, this special topics course aimed to meet various teaching and learning needs for the post-professional occupational therapy doctorate program. This paper describes how the focus, format, and content of the course developed through a backward design approach to address topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic and intersecting, ongoing crises of structural racism and health and social inequalities. The primary course assignment, a knowledge mobilization product, provided students novel opportunities to leverage their occupational perspectives in response to emergent issues. The paper concludes by addressing three interrelated topics: the importance of institutional mechanisms that facilitate responsive educational innovations; the need to track the teaching and learning impacts of such innovations; and how such innovations reflect the importance of occupational science education.
Keywords. Occupational science; Backward design; Knowledge mobilization; Professional education; Occupational therapy
Benitez, A. D., Park, D., & Bream, S. (2022). International students’ and alumni perspectives on their transition to graduate level occupational therapy education and daily life in the United States. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 6(2), 11. https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2022.060211 Show abstract
International students who enroll in American occupational therapy academic programs must quickly adapt to the academic demands and everyday life rhythms within the United States. This qualitative study contributes to the body of knowledge of lived experiences of international occupational therapy students, specific to their transition to graduate occupational therapy education and daily life in a new country. Thirteen (13) international occupational therapy graduate students and alumni participated in an individual or joint interview. Three key themes emerged from the findings and include the following: 1) Challenges: Inside and Outside of the Classroom, 2) A Support System: A Home Away from Home, and 3) Giving Back to my Home Country: Improving Occupational Therapy Education, Practice, and Research. This study provides insights into the challenges experienced by international graduate occupational therapy students and alumni, strategies that are beneficial in supporting them as they transition into graduate level education and daily life within the United States, and their motivations for giving back to their home countries.
Bream, S. (2019). Becoming a change agent. In K. Jacobs & G. L. McCormack (Eds.), Occupational therapy manager (6th ed., pp. 225-232). AOTA Press.
To more clearly understand how the profession of occupational therapy has historically defined, viewed, and interpreted clinical practice specific to adolescent mental health, the author of this article conducted an in-depth review and analysis of the topic in occupational therapy literature, including Occupational Therapy Archives (1917 to 1924), Occupational Therapy & Rehabilitation (1925 to 1950), the American Journal of Occupational Therapy (1960 to 2009); and 11 editions of Willard and Spackman’s Occupational Therapy textbooks (1947 to 2009). This article offers insight into how the profession of occupational therapy has historically conceptualized clinical practice settings, interdisciplinary collaboration, therapeutic approaches, and types of intervention specific to our role in adolescent mental health practice. The article also includes a timeline of key historical events that have helped shape occupational therapy practice in adolescent mental health.
Bream, S. (2010, June 28). Meeting the mental health needs of adolescents. OT Practice, 15(11), 15-18. Full text
February 13, 2023
More than two dozen USC Chan faculty, students and alumni will be speaking at the 2023 Western Regional Occupational Therapy Spring Symposium in Las Vegas from Mar. 3-5. The event is a collaboration between the occupational therapy state professional associations of Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico,…
January 6, 2021
Meet the Trojans looking to make a nationwide difference for the good of the profession.
September 27, 2017
By Mike McNulty Eight Trojans have been named recipients of annual awards presented by the Occupational Therapy Association of California, a non-profit professional society that represents the interests of the more than 15,000 occupational therapy practitioners working in California. Associate Chair…
December 29, 2016
Occupational Therapy Association of California float commemorates 100-year anniversary of profession's founding
October 3, 2014
By Mike McNulty Five USC Trojans received awards and 82 Trojans presented during the 2014 conference of the Occupational Therapy Association of California, October 16-19 in Pasadena. Assistant clinical professor Sarah Bream received the Award of Appreciation, alumna Diane Mayfield received the…
October 22, 2013
85 Trojan alumni and faculty will be presenting at the 2013 Conference of the Occupational Therapy Association of California, Oct. 24-27 at the Sacramento (Calif.) Convention Center. On the evening of Friday Oct. 25, be sure to join your USC Trojan Family at the conference's alumni cocktail mixer.…
October 1, 2012
46 USC faculty, alumni, and students are scheduled to present lectures and/or posters during the Occupational Therapy Association of California 2012 Conference, October 4-7 in Pasadena. Click below to view the full list of USC presenters, to plan your conference accordingly, and remember to reunite…
October 11, 2011
The Occupational Therapy Association of California's 35th annual Conference begins this Thursday! Click below for the full list of Trojan alumni, faculty, staff and students who will be there presenting, and remember that the USC Alumni and Student Reception is the evening of Friday, October 14. See…
July 1, 2010
Be sure to see Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Adolescents, written by alum Sarah Bream, in the June 28, 2010 issue of OT Practice.