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Michal Sela-Amit

Associate Teaching Professor

Dr. Sela-Amit specializes in child, youth and family social work.

Media Contact
Michal Sela-Amit
Phone:  +1 213.821.4402
Rank:  Clinical Teaching
Department:  Children, Youth and Families

Michal Sela-Amit

Associate Teaching Professor

Dr. Sela-Amit specializes in child, youth and family social work.

Media Contact

Biography

Michal Sela-Amit is an associate teaching professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. She instructs students in the MSW program on Campus and on the on-line program. She teaches courses on clinical theory and practice including Human Behavior, Foundation Practice courses, Domestic Violence and IPV, Practice in Early Childhood Social Work Practice, and Global Immersions courses to Israel and China. Her clinical interests include providing culturally sensitive and relationally informed interventions focusing on the social context of the family, the organizations, and the communities. She uses solution focused perspectives and narrative therapy as well as the healing and transformative power of the arts in her practice and teaching. She has experiences in designing and developing courses including online courses. Because of her interest in the intersection of social work and the arts, Sela-Amit is incorporating expressive practices, including the use of community-based theater, for empowerment of youth and communities into her teaching. Sela-Amit is an expert on incorporating the arts in social work and has served as the chair of a consortium of national and international social work faculty focusing on the advancement of the arts in social work.
Born and raised in Israel, Sela-Amit served as a clinical therapist at the Haifa University Student Counseling Center. She then worked with emotionally and behaviorally challenged youth in residential settings and in schools. She served as a research practitioner and therapist with adults, couples, families, and groups impacted by domestic violence and child abuse at the Haifa Women's League for Israel Family Therapy Center. In addition, she was served as an instructor at the University of Haifa and the Tel-Hai Academic College in Israel, where she developed and taught courses on immigration, diversity, group work and cultural competence for social workers. Sela-Amit has developed the USC School of Social Work's support program for international students and continues to support Admissions and Students Services in their work with international students. In 2008, she assisted MSW students in establishing the International Social Work Caucus and has served as the adviser to the caucus since then. She served as a co-chair of the Families and Children concentration, and a lead instructor on several key courses on the Children, Youth and Families track. She currently leads the Social Work and the Arts think tank. Sela-Amit also served as a member of the CSWE-China USC Project, where she trained Chinese counterpart in building a curriculum and teaching in the areas of Child Welfare and Family practice. She has been active in providing mentorship to visiting scholars and students to advance the development of the social work profession in China. Sela-Amit is interested in supporting community organizations in empowering youth through the arts and has served as a board member of the Unusual Suspects Theater Company, a non-profit that arose after the LA Riots to empower incarcerated and at-risk youth in the most challenged communities in Los Angeles through mentoring, arts and theater workshops.

Area of Expertise

  • Social Work and the Arts

  • Expressive Practices

  • Family Therapy

  • Group Work

  • Domestic Violence

  • Trauma Informed Care

  • Children, Youth and Family

Industry Experience

  • Education/Learning
  • Research
  • Social Work Practice with Youth, Adults, and Families

Accomplishments

Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching and Service (May 2019)

Awarded by the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Hutto Patterson Foundation

Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Presentation (2018)

Awarded by the International Conference of Arts and Sciences

Articles & Publications

Art in social work: Do we really need it? (2019) Journal of Research on Social Work Practice.

The arts have been used in social work practice with individuals and communities since the beginning of the profession, and yet an articulation of a rationale for their use is missing. An exploration of how the arts fit within the profession’s mission is also lacking. The lack of a theoretical foundation for the arts in social work has thus resulted in the marginalization of arts practice in the field. This article examines fundamental questions regarding the use of the arts in social work: the relevance of the arts to clients, to social workers, and whether the arts can provide evidence to promote professional work. Addressing these concerns will clarify the relevance of the arts to social work theory and practice and explore their advantages and limitations, thus helping to create more nuanced collaborations between social work and the humanities, arts therapy, and the arts in general.