Tessa Milman OTD, OTR/L (she/her)
Associate Director of the Entry-Level Doctorate of Occupational Therapy Program, and Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy
Tessa Milman teaches mental health, clinical reasoning, community programming and qualitative research, utilizing Team-Based Learning and other learner-centered pedagogies. Her courses incorporate diverse perspectives and critical theories, to support occupational therapy students to become culturally humble practitioners who care deeply about lived experiences and embody person-centered and trauma-informed approaches. She has practiced and supervised students in pediatric and adult mental health settings.
When working with children, she worked specifically with families who had experienced trauma and were involved in the foster care system. Her personal journey building her family through adoption from the foster care system has provided her with experiential knowledge about impact of trauma on relationships and participation. She is passionate about integrating lived experience with academic knowledge within teaching and practice, and embedding justice, equity, diversity and inclusion into occupational therapy practice and curriculum. Dr. Milman is on the board of the division’s Diversity, Access, and Equity Committee, where she serves as chair of the curriculum workgroup.
Dr. Milman holds her Doctorate of Occupational Therapy and Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy, both from USC. She earned her BA degree in Sociology from Smith College.
Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
2009 | University of Southern California
Master of Arts (MA)
in Occupational Therapy
2008 | University of Southern California
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
2001 | Smith College
Scremin, T., & Milman, T. Z. (2023). Personal medicine as a recovery tool. In E. A. Pyatak & E. S. Lee (Eds.), 50 studies every occupational therapist should know (pp. 143-148). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/med/9780197630402.003.0020 Show abstract
This chapter explores how people with psychiatric disorders use personal medicine, non-pharmaceutical personal coping tools, as a mechanism for their recovery from mental illness. Personal medicine involves engaging in activities that are meaningful or activities to support self-care. The study examined how individuals use personal medicine to cope with symptoms, to improve wellness, and to bring greater meaning and purpose to their lives. The study includes narratives illustrating how individuals use personal medicine, why they often do not share these experiences with their providers, and how experiences of personal medicine intersect with use of psychiatric medications. Suggestions are provided for how providers can support recovery by eliciting information about personal medicine and supporting individuals to identify and use it.
Keywords. resilience, coping, psychiatric disorder, mental illness, mental health recovery, psychiatric medication, non-pharmaceutical therapy
Yue, J. W., Delavar, M., Padini, B., Vanstrum, E., Milman, T., & Sideris, J. (2021). The value of occupational therapy student participation in university-based student-run free clinics in the United States. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 5(4), 13. https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2021.050413 Show abstract
While student-run free clinic (SRFC) participation is well-documented among many health professions, no study has comprehensively characterized occupational therapy student participation. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand both the current presence as well as educational impact of occupational therapy student participation in university-based SRFCs in the United States (U.S). Data collection occurred through a national survey and semi-structured interviews. Surveys were sent to representatives (e.g. program directors, faculty advisors, and student leaders) at all 190 accredited occupational therapy schools. Of these, 118 responded, for an overall response rate of 62.1%. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of physician’s assistant, medical, pharmacy, and occupational therapy students (N=9). Results showed that 12.7% of schools contributed volunteers to at least one SRFC (N=15). Themes included that occupational therapy students provided a unique perspective to the interprofessional team, educated other students about occupational therapy’s scope, and demonstrated strong patient interviewing skills. They also learned from opportunities to explore future career possibilities, engage in interdisciplinary teamwork, and practice skills in a safe space. Occupational therapy programs have a relatively low rate of participation (12.7%) in SRFCs compared to other health professions nationally. However, occupational therapy and other health professional students report that occupational therapy student participation creates important educational opportunities. These opportunities may strengthen occupational therapy’s role in interprofessional team-based care, especially within the emerging practice area of primary care.
Milman, T., & Pitts, D. B. (2018, March). Contemporary issues on supervision in community mental health practice [Continuing Education]. OT Practice, CEA0318, CE1–CE9. Full text Show abstract
This article will introduce and provide examples of two broad contemporary approaches that supervisors can use to strengthen mental health practice: reflective supervision and recovery-oriented supervision. Reflective supervision supports supervisees’ capacity for deep reflection and intentional action, and recovery-oriented supervision applies concepts from the recovery model to supervision, to empower supervisees to embrace the recovery model in practice.
Four new, early-stage projects selected for internal research funding >
Aims of projects include increasing social connections in mental health clubhouses, improving return-to-work, developing trauma-informed framework for minoritized families of autistic girls and better understanding autistic sensory strengths
February 3, 2023
Inclusive LGBTQIA+ Patient Care >
As we celebrate Pride Month, it is necessary to address the importance of inclusive LGBTQIA+ patient care. Four members of our division — Ava Tehrani, Daphne Carcedo Cravens, Dr. Karrie Kingsley and Dr. Tessa Milman – discuss with our student ambassador, Lamoni, how heteronormativity is harmful…
June 22, 2020
How your senses can help you better enjoy the holidays >
Tips from an occupational therapist for a healthy, happy, holiday season.
December 13, 2018
5 awardees and 82 presenters slated for OTAC 2014 conference >
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 3, 2014
85 Trojans representing at 2013 OTAC conference >
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 22, 2013
128 Trojans Presenting at 2013 AOTA Conference >
128 USC alumni, faculty, and students are scheduled to present at the 2013 Conference of the American Occupational Therapy Association, April 25-28 at the San Diego Convention Center. Presentation formats include a pre-conference institute, workshops, short courses, research and professional posters…
April 23, 2013