PhD, Public Health Sciences - Community Health, 1997, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
MS, Occupational Therapy, 1992, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
BS, Occupational Therapy, 1987, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio
BA, Spanish, Cleveland State University, 1987, Cleveland, Ohio
Dr. Helfrich has worked clinically and developed student fieldwork programs throughout the spectrum of mental health settings. As an academic, she has focused her research on understanding and meeting the needs of those least likely to receive services from occupational therapy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (OT & Disability Studies), Boston University (OT & Rehabilitation Science), Bristol Community College, and at AIC. Over the decades, her work has defined the role of occupational therapy with survivors of domestic violence and people who have experienced homelessness, as she has straddled the fields of occupational therapy and public health.
With over two million dollars in federal funding, she seeks to include the voice of clients in all aspects of research, teaching, service, and fieldwork development. Her Socratic teaching style is empowering and trauma-informed. She is an experienced AFWC and FWE, having created Level I & II non-traditional placements in multiple settings for both OTA and OT students. The interdependence of practice, research, and education are critical in her work and focus on social learning and occupational justice.