Occupational Therapy

Susan Noyes PhD, OTR/L

Associate Professor
Susan Noyes headshot

Office Location




Academic Degrees

  • PhD in Adult Learning, Lesley University
  • MS in Adult Education, University of Southern Maine
  • BS in Occupational Therapy, Tufts University, 1984


Susan chose a career in occupational therapy to work in adult rehabilitation, but had such an amazing level II fieldwork experience in mental health that she has practiced in that area for over 30 years. She has worked in a variety of settings including inpatient units, outpatient clinics, day treatment programs, and community residential facilities, as well as numerous grant-funded projects.

Susan has taught in the USM MOT program since 2006. She teaches the mental health practice course as well as courses in research and evidence-based practice, OT theory, the reflective OT practitioner, and group process.

Susan’s scholarly interests include improving quality of life for adults living with serious mental illness; developing occupational therapy assessment and intervention for adults living with hoarding disorder; and facilitating occupational therapy students’ engagement in reflective practice to develop critical thinking and professional reasoning skills. Susan has conducted qualitative research on a volunteer program for people living with hoarding disorder; she has also published and presented on this topic, and was a founding member of the former Portland Maine Hoarding Task Force. She has most recently authored part of AOTA’s updated systematic review on occupational therapy interventions for adults with serious mental illness, and the updated AOTA Practice Guidelines based on this systematic review. She was co-guest editor of the AJOT special issue on mental health, and has served AOTA as both chair and research coordinator of the Mental Health Special Interest Section.

When not teaching, Susan enjoys baking, yoga, dabbling in art, and spending time with her family and adorable dog, Mavis.



Recent Publications

Noyes, S. & Lannigan, E. (April, 2019). AOTA Practice Guidelines for Adults with Serious Mental Illness. AOTA Press: Baltimore, Maryland.

Noyes, S. (January 2019). Anxiety Disorders. In Occupational Therapy in Mental Health: A Vision for Participation. (2nd edition). Brown, C., Stoffel, V. (Eds.) Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis. 

Swarbrick, M., & Noyes, S. (2018). Guest Editorial—Effectiveness of occupational therapy services in mental health practice. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72, 7205170010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2018.725001

Noyes, S., Sokolow, H. & Arbesman, M. (2018). Evidence for occupational therapy intervention with employment and education for adults with serious mental illness: A systematic review. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72, 7205190010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2018.033068

Peabody, M. & Noyes, S. (2017) Reflective boot camp: Adapting LEGO® Serious Play® in higher education. Reflective Practice, DOI: 10.1080/14623943.2016.1268117 

Noyes, S. (November, 2015). Living in the community with serious mental illness: Occupational therapy’s role in a community residential setting. OT Practice, American Occupational Therapy Association: Maryland.  

Clark, L. & Spear, S. N. (2015). Ethical Leadership. In Occupational Therapy Perspective on Leadership: Theoretical and Practical Dimensions (pp. 75-84). (2nd edition). Dunbar, S., Winston, K. (Eds.) Thorofare, NJ: SLACK.

Spear, S. N. (March 2014). “Friendly visitor”: An occupational therapist’s experience of supporting a person with compulsive hoarding behavior. OT Practice. American Occupational Therapy Association: Maryland 



Professional Activity

Research Coordinator of the Mental Health Special Interest Section (MHSIS) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (2018-2021)

Chair of the Mental Health Special Interest Section (MHSIS) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (2015-2018)

Guest Co-Editor, Special Issue on Evidence-based Practice in Mental Health (October 2018), American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT), Baltimore, MD

Founding member, Portland Maine Hoarding Task Force, 2011-present

Reviewer, American Occupational Therapy Association, conference proposals (mental health content) for Annual Conference 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah

Chair, Mental Health Special Interest Section (MHSIS) Annual Program, "Developing a Private Practice in Mental Health Occupational Therapy," American Occupational Therapy Association annual conference, March 2017

Editorial Board member (2015-2018): OT Practice, published by the American Occupational Therapy Association, Baltimore, MD