Social Work Interim Dean Jerrold Brandell receives lifetime achievement award

Jerrold Brandell, Wayne State SSW Interim Dean and Distinguished Professor (left), Deborah Gorman-Smith, University of Chicago SSA Interim Dean and Emily Klein Gidwitz Professor (center) and Alison Weston, AM ’08, SSA Alumni Association Board President (right)

Jerrold Brandell, distinguished professor and interim dean of the Wayne State University School of Social Work, has received the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration’s (SSA) Edith Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement.

One of the school’s highest honors, the Edith Abbott award recognizes an SSA alumna/us for distinguished service to society and for outstanding professional contributions at the local, national, or international levels. Award recipients reflect the mission of SSA and a demonstrated, ongoing relationship with the school and a commitment to its growth.  

Brandell, who earned his Ph.D. in Social Treatment at SSA in 1982, accepted the award at the school’s AMP the Base Impact Conference in Chicago on Oct. 21. Presenting the award, SSA Alumni Association Board President Alison Weston (above right) praised Brandell “for his distinguished work, commitment to the profession, and remarkable service,” calling him “an exceptional person who richly deserves to be honored.”

Weston went on to describe Brandell’s extensive accomplishments in practice, scholarship and higher education. A practicing clinical social worker for nearly 40 years, Brandell completed his psychoanalytic training with the Michigan Council for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in 2002. He has drawn on his extensive experience as a child, adolescent and adult psychotherapist and psychoanalyst in the publication of 13 books, as (founding) editor-in-chief of Psychoanalytic Social Work, and as an editorial board member of Clinical Social Work Journal and Bulletin of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Council.

Since joining the Wayne State School of Social Work faculty in 1992, Brandell has headed the development of the M.S.W. program’s psychodynamic track and the doctoral program’s concentration in clinical scholarship, provided administrative leadership in the roles of associate dean for faculty affairs and interim associate dean for academic affairs, and been awarded a distinguished professorship by the university’s president and the board of governors in 2008. He has been recognized as a distinguished practitioner by the National Academies of Practice and earlier this year received the American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work’s first-ever Selma Fraiberg Award for Excellence in Practice with Children and Adolescents and Their Parents. 

Brandell, who has been developing an international research and teaching exchange between Wayne State School of Social Work faculty and social workers at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland, said the Edith Abbott award is “perhaps the greatest honor I shall ever receive.”

“My original intent at the time SSA accepted me into its doctoral program was to return eventually to full-time clinical practice,” Brandell said, “but after four years at the University of Chicago, and exposure to such wonderful teachers as Erika Fromm and Bernice Simon, my focus and career goals underwent a major transformation, and I decided to enter academe.”     

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