Occupational Therapy

The Washington Heights Community Service (WHCS) is a comprehensive community-based program for individuals with severe mental illness who live in Northern Manhattan. The Service consists of a 22-bed inpatient unit at NYSPI and two outpatient clinics located in the communities of Washington Heights (Audubon Clinic) and Inwood (Inwood Clinic). It is affiliated with the New York State Psychiatric Institute and reports to the New York Office of Mental Health.

The inpatient unit, called 4 South, is an acute care unit with an average length of stay of 15-40 days. Treatment is provided for a variety of psychiatric illnesses, with a majority of people receiving treatment for a psychotic disorder (e.g., Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder) or a major affective disorder (e.g., Bipolar Disorder or Major Depression). Given the demographics of Northern Manhattan and the large number of immigrants from Latin American and Caribbean countries, the unit is run on a bilingual basis. Occupational Therapists function as members of an interdisciplinary team composed of psychiatric residents, psychiatric attendings, social workers, nurses, occupational therapists and mental health therapy aides. Every effort is made to provide coordinated care between the inpatient unit and outpatient clinics and staff from each clinic attends weekly inpatient team rounds.

The role of the Occupational Therapist on 4 South is 1) to evaluate the patient and their family to determine psychosocial stressors that may have contributed to the need for hospitalization 2) to provide psychoeducation to the patient and family with respect to all aspects of the patient's illness 3) to help with discharge planning in relation to the patient’s functioning and their expected environment and 4) run groups to teach/reteach work, social and leisure skills. Patients are seen daily.

The Audubon Clinic is located at 513 West 166th Street. The Inwood Clinic is located at 26 Sherman Avenue, NYC, NY. The clinics provide a range of individualized services ranging from outpatient care to day treatment programming.

(1) Outpatient services: Clients receive supportive therapy, rehabilitative services with a focus on community reintegration as well as pharmacological treatment monthly. Each client is assigned a psychiatrist and case manager / therapist. Family treatment is also encouraged.

(2) Day Program: This program provides more intense treatment for clients who require contact 3-5 times a week in a supportive environment. Clients are encouraged to participate in various groups with a focus towards recovery and learning independent living skills.

Occupational Therapists in the clinics function as primary therapists and lead therapeutic groups. They are also part of a multidisciplinary team and they supervise OT students and volunteers.

The Occupational Therapy Department runs a large student program. Students come to Psychiatric Institute from Columbia University, New York University, SUNY-Downstate, York College, Touro College, Laguardia College, Utica College, Mercy College, Kean College, Long Island University, Ithaca College, Quinnipiac University, Towson State University and Scranton University.

Department members attend regular department meetings, and in-services as well as outside seminars and conferences. They are encouraged to attend Grand Rounds and other pertinent lectures offered by the NYS Psychiatric Institute.


Elaine Mullen, MS OTR
Director of Occupational Therapy
Clinical Fieldwork Coordinator
Audubon Clinic

Yohannan Ness OTR
Audubon Clinic
212- 795-3719

Jennifer Richman, OTR
Inwood Clinic

Eddie Rivera, COTA
PI-4 South Intensive Care Unit

Jeffrey Tomlinson, OTR, CSW
Audubon Clinic

Darlene Williams, COTA
PI-4 South Intensive Care Unit