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Susan Hess - USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Los Angeles, CA, US

Susan Hess Susan Hess

Clinical Associate Professor of Social Work Field Education | USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work


Licensed Clinical Social Worker


SUSAN HESS serves as a clinical associate professor of field education. Through her private consulting, presenting and relational organizing, Hess demonstrates her primary areas of expertise in the intersections of intimate partner violence and trauma informed approaches to healing. She is an advisor to the student interest group Unchained Scholars, "a group of formerly incarcerated MSW, DSW and Ph.D students working with ally members to dismantle the barriers faced by people impacted by the criminal punishment system. Upholding the values and principles of the profession of social work, we challenge beliefs, policies and systems that marginalize, stigmatize and dehumanize individuals with criminal records contributing to a cycle of economic and racialized oppression. Through advocacy and diverse community building we live the change we want to see. "

In 2013, the City of Los Angeles Domestic Violence Task Force presented Hess with the Dr. Marjorie Braude Award for her innovative collaboration in serving victims of domestic violence. She is the co-founder of the Trauma Informed LA.

Hess earned her MSW from USC. She is a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Illinois and a certified teacher in nonviolent education and parenting.

Education (2)

University of Southern California: MSW 1993

Scripps College: BA 1991

Areas of Expertise (4)

Incarceration and Racial Disparity

Trauma Therapy

Domestic Violence

Social Work

Industry Expertise (3)

Social Services


Health and Wellness

Accomplishments (1)

Marjorie Braude Award (professional)

2013 City of Los Angeles Domestic Violence Task Force

Affiliations (3)

  • Invited Board Member, Visionary Youth Center
  • Co Founder of Trauma Informed LA
  • Faculty Chair of National Association of Social Work USC Unit


Media Appearances (3)

Hess, Brown & Pena to Present in Cuba at Conference

Bits & Bytes: Internal News  online


Susie Hess, LCSW-IL, Danielle Brown, LCSW and Vanessa Pena were accepted to present in Havana, Cuba at the conference for Development and Perspectives of Social Work in Today’s World. The conference runs from June 5-10, 2017, and will be hosted by the 8th International Congress, 10th National Congress of Social Work, and 4th National and International Congress of Socio-Occupational Therapy.

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Orange County News: Parga Holds Trauma Informed Care Task Force Retreat

Bits & Bytes: Internal News  online


Senior Lecturer Jen Parga, advisor for the the Trauma Informed Care Task Force of Greater LA (TIC Task Force), will be facilitating a retreat for its strategic planning committee at the Orange County Academic Center on Oct. 9. Senior Lecturer of Field Education Susan Hess is the co-founder and co-chair of the TIC Task Force.

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VAC Lecturer Susan Hess Presents to Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Bits & Bytes: Internal News  online


Virtual Academic Center instructor and field liaison Susan Hess presented last month to clinicians at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) on “Integrating Trauma Informed Care with Children in a Medical Setting.”

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Research Articles & Publications (4)

Virtual Academic Challenges To Real-Time Trauma

Field Educator

Baron, M.., Hess, S.L., Singh, M.

2016 Helping graduate level social work students address and process recent mass casualty violence is a challenge to any classroom. We feel it is especially challenging when the classroom is virtual. While the virtual format allows for video and audio contact, students and instructors may be thousands of miles apart and see each other, like the old Hollywood Squares television program, from only the shoulders to the top of the head. Our Virtual Academic Center (VAC), while in most ways a marvel of technology, does present special challenges when faculty is confronted with such sensitive issues as the killings in Orlando, the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the shooting of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

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Transformative social work practice

Intimate partner violence

Schott, E. M. & Weiss, E. L. (Eds.)


When the past is present in the classroom: Utilizing a trauma-informed approach in the virtual setting

Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Brown, D., Baron, M.W., Cardinal, L, Hess, S., & Singh, M.I.


Social work students bring to the virtual classroom and field internship unique personal experiences, many of which have been traumatic in nature. We know that many choose social work to “give back” or to help others who have had similar, difficult circumstances as their own. In reviewing admissions essays to social work programs, one will read narratives about complex histories including intimate partner violence, homelessness, military combat-related PTSD, legal histories, natural disaster, or being in recovery from drug use. In addition to their personal trauma histories, students are likely to be exposed to new and difficult clinical subject matter in their field placement, which may trigger stress and trauma responses. As the number of virtual social work programs grows, so too does the need for faculty to become increasingly competent in creating a unique virtual learning environment that includes a trauma-informed approach. As instructors are navigating a diverse national, and sometimes international, student audience, faculty are also working with virtual technology to provide the strongest and most conducive setting for learning, one that allows for mindful self-reflection, and safety when discussing potentially challenging experiences. Utilizing trauma-informed teaching methodology based on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s guiding principles of trauma-informed care (SAMHSA, 2014), faculty in the virtual setting can assist students to feel safe, empowered, and supported as they move through their educational experience.

Trauma Informed Interview Coaching: An Innovative Approach to Achieve Equal Opportunity and Social Justice in Field Education

Field Educator Simmons School of Social Work

Brown, D., Hess, S., & Singh, M.I.


In 2018, field faculty at the University of Southern California Suzanne DworakPeck School of Social Work launched a pilot project called Trauma-Informed Interview Coaching (TIIC). The project’s goals were to support justice-involved MSW students during the field placement process, to decrease failed agency interviews, and to reduce agency replacements. This project is ongoing and data on its outcomes are being collected and evaluated

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