Julia Henderson, PhD, Reg. OT(BC), MSc, BScOT

Profile portrait of Julia Henderson

Assistant Professor

phone: 604–822–7142



I completed both my Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy and my Master of Science in Rehabilitation at Queen’s University, and I earned my PhD in Theatre at UBC in 2018. Drawing on my backgrounds as both an OT and a professional actor, my dissertation investigated representations of aging and old age in contemporary North American theatre, with a focus on the ways that plays resist ageist stereotypes and narrative tropes through their dramatic texts and/or performances.

To further my work in cultural age studies, I completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Concordia University’s Ageing+Communication+Technologies Project. I participated as a core team member with the Raising the Curtain on the Lived Experience of Dementia Project of Gibsons B.C., where I used qualitative methods (grounded theory) to describe the team’s processes of collaborative creation from the perspective of the project’s artist facilitators. The overall project explored the lived experience of dementia through employing community engaged arts practices and community-based participatory research approaches.

I am a member of UBC’s Healthy Aging Project and Centre for Research on Personhood in Dementia. I am also the Vice Chair of the North American Network in Aging Studies, and Creative Accessibilities Facilitator for Western Gold Theatre, a professional senior theatre company in Vancouver, BC. I joined the Department of OSOT as a member of faculty in September, 2022. When I am not working, I enjoy creating visual art, dancing, and spending time with my family and many pets.


My research centres on redressing ageism through occupation. I investigate how occupations can be used to counter ageism, foster a sense of community (especially across generations), and positively (re)shape notions of aging, old age, and practices of care, and be used as forms of activism. I primarily investigate occupations related to theatre, performance, and collaborative art-making that embrace allyship, and I strive to include a range of intersections of gender, race, and class, bringing together a diversity of older adults, their care partners, students, health care staff, community organizations, artists, and researchers. My research consciously experiments with co-creation processes, theatrical technologies, dramaturgical strategies, and performance techniques. My goal is that my research will contribute to constructing new, more positive yet also authentic meanings surrounding older age-identities, experiences of aging, and care relationships.


Drawing on pedagogies from my background in OT and other fields, I teach critical, experiential, ethical and clinically-informed engagement with course material. My goal is to teach course content and analytical skills, as well as to help students develop critical generosity, mutual respect, and effective communication. My teaching style adopts a range of approaches to meet diverse learning preferences and integrate practices of accessibility and inclusivity. I use many participatory activities in the classroom, incorporate class discussion and debate, use learner-centred techniques, and present carefully honed lectures. Creating opportunities for self-directed learning, choice, and student leadership is important to my teaching. I pursue ongoing training in equity, diversity, and inclusion and integrate this into my teaching by inviting guest speakers with different approaches, and by teaching course content whenever possible through a variety of lenses including age studies, disability studies, gender studies, and Indigenous perspectives. I am also passionate about life-long learning. I find it a privilege and valued occupation to help students expand their horizons, and to develop my own knowledge and perspectives in the process.

Graduate and Postdoctoral Research Opportunities

I welcome inquiries from prospective MSc and PhD students. Visit the Rehabilitation Sciences Research Graduate Programs Website for more information.

Please contact me to discuss training opportunities.


  • Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT)
  • Canadian Association on Gerontology (CAG)
  • Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR)
  • College of Occupational Therapists of British Columbia (COTBC)
  • International Society of Occupational Scientists (ISOS)
  • North American Network in Aging Studies (NANAS)
  • World Federation of Occupational Therapy (WFOT)

Select Publications

My publications can be found under my ORCHID profile.