Billock Headshot 700x550

Dr. Christy Billock Selected for the 2022 California Foundation of Occupational Therapy Honored Lectureship, Celebrating Her Role as a Trailblazer

Dr. Christy Billock, Professor and Founding Director of Keck Graduate Institute (KGI)’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program, has been selected by the California Foundation of Occupational Therapy (CFOT) for the 2022 CFOT Honored Lectureship. This opportunity is awarded to one individual—chosen each year by vote—who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and vision for the occupational therapy profession.

Billock will be honored at the fall Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) Conference and share her insights and knowledge with the occupational therapy (OT) community at the CFOT Awards Luncheon and Symposium. Making this honor even more remarkable is the fact that Diana Su-Erickson—who has been mentoring Billock for almost 30 years—called her to deliver the good news.

“It was such an honor to receive the call from her, as she had seen something in me when I was very young and pursuing my bachelor’s in occupational therapy,” Billock said. “So it feels like I’ve come full circle. It’s so important to have mentorship within a profession, and I’m super grateful to Diana for providing that to me.”

Billock eagerly anticipates the lectureship, which she feels will bring more visibility to KGI’s OTD program. In the lecture, she plans to cover projects she and her colleagues have been working on since the creation of the program and topics that impact the OT profession as a whole while setting a vision for the future.

“My tagline for many years has been, ’We must teach not to the status quo, but the future of the profession’” Billock said.

To this end, Billock and KGI’s OTD Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, Dr. Rachelle Murphy, are currently working as Principal Investigators for an OTAC research study. They—along with faculty from several other OT programs—are examining the impact of a keynote lecture on systemic racism within occupational therapy.

“The OT profession was founded and shaped primarily by white Western voices that have been predominant within the profession,” Billock said. “The lecture discussed how systemic racism influences whose voices are heard and how some voices are valued more than others while exploring the need for more diverse voices within the field.”

For the study, they are collecting data that will help them assess the impact and integration of the lecture.

“We had many students participate in the survey, and it’s exciting to look at the student perspectives versus those of people who have been in practice for a long time,” Billock said.

This emphasis on diversity informs her approach to OT education.

“Through diverse case studies and reflective learning, we plan to prepare our students to be culturally responsive and understand their own biases that they come into practice with,” Billock said.

Billock recently finished writing a chapter on personal values, beliefs, and spirituality for Willard and Spackman’s Occupational Therapy—the fourth time she has contributed to that textbook. Additionally, she and neuro-rehabilitation health technology company APEX-K, along with KGI alumni-lead Scriptyx, just submitted a grant to the U.S. Department of Defense proposing KGI’s involvement in the first U.S. clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of the APEX-K protocol in treating mild traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome.

Currently, Billock has been busy presenting at conferences on lifestyle medicine and topics such as embracing physical activity, using an interprofessional team approach, and building stress resilience.

“These topics are near and dear to my heart and important for the profession, highlighting new directions that we need to go within OT,” Billock said. “I’ve taken the opportunity whenever I can to be a trailblazer for that work.”

Looking ahead, she is planning a research project that investigates student health and well-being, using lifestyle medicine as a lens for providing ways that faculty can support graduate students in staying healthy.

Billock’s mission is very much aligned with that of the CFOT, which is to enhance health, well-being, and participation in life activities for all individuals, communities, and populations through supporting and promoting occupational therapy research, education, and public awareness. She is excited for the opportunity to present to the foundation and the greater occupational therapy community.

“It’s gratifying to be given the stage to share my insights about this profession that I love so much,” Billock said.