Karen McCarthy, OTD, OTR/L

Karen began her career as an occupational therapist participating in the landmark occupational therapy research study, "The USC Well Elderly Study II: Health Mediating Effects of the Well Elderly Program". Inspired by Lifestyle Redesign® she went on to complete here OTD  at USC in 2008, focusing on the development of the program "Lifestyle Redesign® for the College Student".

Karen's occupational therapy practice includes experience working in community mental health, pain management, addiction recovery, dating coaching, and college student wellness programs. She then moved from Los Angeles to Ireland to teach Mental Health Occupational Therapy at University College Cork, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy from 2012-2016. She started her position at Dominican in Fall 2016, with a primary focus on teaching Psychosocial Aspects of Occupation. 

Karen is the chair of the Psychiatric Occupational Therapy Association of California, a founding member of OT-U a collaboration for occupational therapists working with college students, and a board member of The Society for the Study of Occupation (SSO-USA).


University College Cork & Queen Margaret University, PhD in Occupational Science (candidate)

University College Cork, Master’s in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education

University College Cork, Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education    

University College Cork, Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education 

University of Southern California, Occupational Therapy Doctorate

University of Southern California, MA, Occupational Therapy 

University of California San Diego, BA, Human Development           

Research Interests

Karen's primary research interests include occupational science using qualitative research methods, exploring mental health from lived experience perspectives, dating as an occupation, college student wellness, and adult play.

Honors and Awards

  • Melba Beals Award for Excellence in Diversity, Dominican University of California, 2019
  • Teacher of the Year Award, Dominican University of California, 2018 
  • President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, University College Cork, 2014

Contact Information