Jerrold Brandell

Jerrold Brandell

Distinguished Professor Emeritus


Jerrold Brandell


Brandell, who was appointed Distinguished Professor in 2008 by action of the WSU Board of Governors, taught full-time at Wayne State from 1992 – 2020. He previously held several administrative appointments within the School of Social Work, including interim Dean, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, and interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Previously, he held faculty appointments at Boston University and Michigan State University, and has been a visiting professor at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (Zurich, Switzerland), Lund University School of Social Work (Lund, Sweden), The University of Canterbury, (Christchurch, New Zealand), and National Taipei University (Taipei, Taiwan). He has led workshops and lectured widely on clinical topics in the United States, as well as in England, Scotland, Greece, Crete, Spain, Sweden, China, France, Israel, Switzerland, Taiwan, and New Zealand. Brandell has regularly taught in the Professional Development Program at The University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration, as well as in the postgraduate training course at the Michigan Council on Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, where he served as president from 2021-22. In 2002, he received the Wayne State University Distinguished Faculty Fellowship Award, and in 2011, the School of Social Work Award for Outstanding Teaching. He was a past recipient of The University of Chicago’s Edith Abbott Doctoral Teaching Fellowship. In 2017, he was presented with the first-ever Selma Fraiberg Award for his contributions to the field of child and adolescent psychoanalysis at the 15th National Conference of the American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work, and, also in 2017, received the Edith Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement from the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration.

A practicing child, adolescent, and adult psychotherapist, and psychoanalyst, Brandell is actively involved in clinical supervision and consultation. Since 2018, he has been a consultant to clinical staff at Wayne State’s Office of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). He is the author, coauthor, or editor/coeditor of sixteen books, including Theory and Practice in Clinical Social Work, 3rd Edition (Cognella, 2021); Trauma: Contemporary Directions in Theory, Practice, and Research, 2nd Edition (Columbia University Press, 2019); Of Mice and Metaphors: Therapeutic Storytelling with Children, 2nd Edition (Sage Press, 2016); Psychodynamic Social Work (Columbia University Press, 2004); Attachment and Dynamic Practice (Columbia University Press, 2007); Celluloid Couches, Cinematic Clients: Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in the Movies (SUNY Press, 2004); and Countertransference in Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents (Jason Aronson, 1992).

In 2023, Cognella will release a significantly revised and expanded second edition of his text, Essentials of Clinical Social Work, which features 21 chapters by leading social work scholars and researchers in clinical practice. Brandell is the (Founding) Editor-in-Chief of Psychoanalytic Social Work (now in its 30th year of publication). In 2001, he was recognized as a distinguished practitioner by the National Academies of Practice. Brandell is a recent recipient of the Fulbright Foundation’s Specialist Award.

Brandell balances his academic and clinical interests with a life-long passion for musical performance. A former student of Oliver Nelson and Joe Daley, he periodically plays alto, tenor and soprano saxophones with a big jazz band in the Ann Arbor area, and has also led his own small jazz group.

Degrees and Certifications

  • Ph.D., Social Treatment, University of Chicago
  • M.S.S.W., University of Wisconsin - Madison
  • Board Certified Diplomate (BCD) in Clinical Social Work
  • Certificate in Psychoanalysis, Michigan Psychoanalytic Council (2002)

Teaching Interests

  • Childhood and adult Clinical interventions with children, adolescents, and adults
  • Psychodynamic theory and practice
  • Therapeutic storytelling with children
  • Cinematic portrayals of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy

Areas of Expertise


  • Psychoanalysis
  • Film and popular culture
  • Child/adolescent/adult psychoanalytic psychotherapy
  • Clinical process and outcomes in psychoanalytic psychotherapy
  • Psychodynamic supervision


  • Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
  • Psychoanalysis


  • Portrayal of psychoanalysis in media
  • Psychodynamic social work
  • Supervision in psychotherapy
  • Child psychotherapy
  • Adult psychotherapy
  • Psychoanalysis

Personal Interests

Brandell is the author of one TV series pilot, two motion picture screenplays, and one documentary film treatment:

“Antimacassar”: [Series pilot, unproduced, 2021]. Daniel Corman, a psychoanalyst practicing in Chicago in 1947 discovers he possesses a unique extrasensory ability to explore the darkest recesses of his patients’ psyches. In fact, not only does he seem to grasp deeply repressed and dissociated memories – he actually enters the minds of his patients as both an observer and active participant in their fantasies and dreams. He soon realizes that this gift may come at a price, bringing with it unexpected and even terrifying consequences (57 pages).

”Giggin’ with Johnny Mitchell” [Motion picture screenplay, unproduced, 2014]. A middle-aged white college professor, longing for the jazz career he gave up years before, gets transported back in time to 1946, enters the body of a black musician, and falls in love – but can’t get back to the present (129 pages).

“The Celluloid Couch” [Documentary film treatment, unproduced, 2006]. Cinematic treatment of the portrayal of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in commercial film from 1906 – present.

“Dave’s Blues” [Motion picture screenplay, unproduced, 1989]. A musically talented, 13-year-old suburban Chicago boy negotiating the challenges of adolescence during the turbulent late 1960s must find a way to understand his mother’s deepening depression (162 pages).

Jazz, Blues & Social Justice

Spearheaded by Brandell, the Wayne State School of Social Work hosted Jazz, Blues & Social Justice, a performance event in celebration of Wayne State's 150th Sesquicentennial, held on Thursday, April 5, 2018. This event brought together faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends to explore the intersection of jazz, blues and the theme of social justice.

Performers included:
• Vincent Chandler, Jerry Brandell and the Jazztet (student-lead ensemble)
• Nadine Marshal (spoken word)
• Thornetta Davis (headliner -blues performer and band)
• Nick Austin (MC)

View photos of the event and an event video

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