Marleen Wong

Clinical Professor and Senior Associate Dean, Field Education
Contact Information
Location
University Park
Phone213.740.0840
E-mail
Department of Study 
Children, Youth and Families
Research Interest 
Behavioral Health
Children & Families
Mental Health
Military Social Work
Schools
Education 
PhD, The Sanville Institute, 2005
MSW, University of Southern California, 1971
BA, California State University, Fresno, 1969

MARLEEN WONG, senior associate dean and clinical professor, serves as director of field education, overseeing the field placements of all Master of Social Work students studying at five academic centers, including the Virtual Academic Center with students based all over the United States.

In addition to her work in field education, Wong is an internationally recognized mental health expert. Called one of the "pre-eminent experts in school crisis and recovery" by the White House and the "architect of school-safety programs" by the Wall Street Journal, Wong has developed mental health recovery programs, crisis and disaster training for school districts and law enforcement in the United States, Canada, Israel and Asia.

Frequently consulted by the U.S. Department of Education to assist schools impacted by violence, shootings, terrorism and natural disasters, she has lent her expertise to the recovery from a multitude of major crises, including terrorist attacks in New York and Oklahoma cities, school shootings in Columbine and Newtown, 1992 civil unrest in Los Angeles, sniper shootings in Washington, D.C., and environmental disaster as a result of the BP oil spill. She has traveled across the world to speak about school mental health and crisis intervention issues in schools located in the United States, Europe, Asia and Cuba. She has also advised teachers unions and school and government officials on the effects of psychological trauma on schoolchildren and adults after devastating earthquakes in Japan, Taiwan and China.

Formerly director of mental health services, crisis intervention, and suicide prevention for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and director of school crisis and intervention at the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress at the UCLA David Geffen Medical Center, Wong is one of the original developers of the Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools, an evidence-based program using skill-based group intervention to relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and general anxiety among children traumatized by violence, bullying and trauma. She is also one of the developers of Psychological First Aid/Listen, Protect, Connect (PFA/LPC) – a school-based universal prevention intervention for educators and school staffs (non-mental health professionals) to use in supporting students after crises or disasters – that is now being implemented across the United States.

She has served on the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) Board on Neuroscience and Behavioral Health, which was charged with assessing national priorities and approaches to public health and medical practice, public policy, research, education and training. She also served on the IOM Committee, which produced the publication, Preparing for the Psychological Consequences of Terrorism. After 9/11, she co-authored and edited three school safety books for London-based Jane's Information Group, known for Jane's Book of Ships, that provides critical information on military weaponry and geopolitical military security, and worked with the Educational Directorate of the U.S. Department of Defense/Pentagon to create website materials to support the children of parents deployed to the Iraq and Afghanistan. Wong is the author of the U.S. Department of Justice’s COPS in Schools curriculum on mental health intervention and crisis recovery.

Her awards include the first Los Angeles County Mental Health Commission's Personal Legacy Award for national and international work on behalf of children's mental health and a Caregiver's Program Award from Johnson & Johnson and the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Human Development. She has also received a Woman of Distinction Award from the Los Angeles City Council and the International Soroptomists, and in 2007, accepted a Special Service Award from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Interagency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect. In 2013, she received the George D. Nickel Award for Outstanding Professional Services by a Social Worker from the California Social Welfare Archives.

Wong currently serves as co-principal investigator of the Building Capacity in Military-Connected Schools project, a $7.6 million effort funded by the Department of Defense Education Activity and a partnership between the USC School of Social Work and eight public school districts to create a more welcoming and supportive school environment for children from military families. She also serves as director and principal investigator for the USC/LAUSD/RAND/UCLA Trauma Services Adaptation Center for Resilience, Hope and Wellness in Schools, a community-based research partnership and member of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. In 2011, she was appointed to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Advisory Council. She previously served on the American Psychological Association's Presidential Task Force on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Trauma in Children and Adolescents.

Over the past 20 years, Wong has been a frequent participant and speaker at the White House and national town hall meetings during the administrations of presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, including special invitations to participate in two recent White House meetings on preparing schools for emergencies after the Newtown tragedy and reducing gun violence with remarks from Vice President Joe Biden. She provided invited testimony at Gov. Dannel Malloy’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission and consulted directly with the U.S. secretary of education to reduce violence in schools. She has also served on the expert panel of the U.S. attorney general’s Defending Childhood Initiative, as well as the U.S. surgeon general’s work group to eliminate the stigma of mental health care. Wong also has been identified as a subject matter expert in the area of at-risk populations by the Disaster Mental Health Subcommittee of the National Biodefense Science Board.

When the Los Angeles riots broke out in 1992, Dr. Marleen Wong was working as a school district-employed social worker at a school clinic. At that time, crisis counseling was in its infancy, and when the rioting reached the schools, the Los Angeles Unified School District had no framework in place to deal with a problem of that magnitude. For starters, they needed a federal crisis counseling grant, and Wong was the only person willing to write it. In those first few weeks, Wong and her staff worked 16-to-18-hour days to create systems for hundreds of schools in the district and programs for thousands of faculty members, staff and students. Suddenly, a social worker found herself in the vanguard of a brand-new area of study. As a result of her experiences that year, she would go on to become one of the world’s pre-eminent authorities in the field of school crisis management.

After the riots, Wong stayed at the forefront of this fast-growing field, first becoming LAUSD’s director of mental health, and then, following many years of success, the U.S. Department of Education’s go-to adviser on school crisis and recovery. During that time, Wong developed mental health recovery programs and crisis and disaster training for school districts and law enforcement not only in the United States, but also in places such as Canada, Israel and Asia.

She has advised schools affected by every type of crisis, from the shootings at Thurston, Columbine and Red Lake high schools to the terrorist attacks in Oklahoma City and in New York City on 9/11, as well as natural disasters such as the Northridge earthquake and Hurricane Katrina. She quickly learned that recovery begins with adults; before anything else, they must be trained on how to interact with their students. When the BP oil spill threw the Gulf states into profound disarray, officials called on Wong to listen to the problems of school officials and advise them on the proper course of recovery. Teachers frequently forget that feelings of defeat and hopelessness are natural human responses to major tragedies, Wong says. Even if teachers aren’t directly affected by a crisis, simply working with traumatized students and their families can cause depression, a kind of “vicarious trauma.”

Among her many accomplishments, Wong is one of the creators of the Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools, an evidence-based group intervention designed to address post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety among traumatized students. She has also served on several federal commissions and boards charged with assessing public health, medical practice, policy, research and education, and has authored three books on school safety.
 

Awards and Distinction
Principal Investigator, USC Trauma Treatment and Services Adaptation Center for Resilience, Hope and Wellness in Schools, of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network/SAMHSA, with RAND Health, UCLA Health Services Research Center, and LAUSD Mental Health Service (2012-2016)
George D. Nickel Award for Outstanding Professional Services by a Social Worker, California Social Welfare Archives, USC School of Social Work (2013)
Co-Principal Investigator, Department of Defense Grant, "Building Capacity to Create Highly Supportive Military-Connected School Districts: The Integration of Local School Data, Community Supports, Evidence-based Programs, and Empowerment Strategies" (2010-present)
Member, National Advisory Council on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (2011)
Evis Coda Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Child Mental Health, Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic (2010)
Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Iowa, College of Public Health (2008)
Commendation, InterAgency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (2007)
Commendation, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (2007)
Outstanding Alumna, "Top Dog" Madden Library Nominee (2007)
International Soroptomists Award for Women of Distinction (2003)
Woman of Distinction Award, County of Los Angeles (2003)
Annual Crisis Team Award, Established in Honor of Marleen Wong (2001)
National Delegate Assembly "The Power of Community Heroes", National Education Association
Rosalynn Carter Caregiver's Program Award (2001)
Year 2000 Inaugural Personal Legacy Award For Accomplishments in the Fields of Education and Mental Health, Los Angeles County Mental Health Commission (2000)
Outstanding Contributions to the Asian Pacific Community, Asian Pacific Coastal (APAC) Mental Health Service (1999)
Superintendent's Commendation for Special Contributions to the Students of the Los Angeles Unified School District (1999)
Commendation for Outstanding Service to the People of the County of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles (1998)
Outstanding Individual Contribution to the Field of Mental Health, Southern California Psychiatric Society (1998)
The Jules Levine Outstanding Field Instructor Award, Amigos de la Humanidad, University of Southern California (1998)
More awards
Selected Publications

Wong, M. & Nadeem, E. (2013). Responding to the challenges of Preadolescence. In R.C. Talley & R.J.V. Montgomery (Eds.), Caregiving Across the Lifespan: Research, Practice, and Policy. New York:Springer Press. 47-59.

Jaycox, L.H., Kataoka, S.H., Stein, B.D., Langley, A.K. & Wong, M. (2012). Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools. Journal of Applied School Psychology. 28(3), 239-255.

Kataoka, S., Langley, A.K., Wong, M., Baweja, S. & Stein, B.D. (2011). Responding to students with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Schools. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 21(1), 119-133.

Wong, M. Earthquake and Safe Schools Training. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Compendium of Exemplary Program.

Kataoka, S., Jaycox, L.H., Wong, M., Nadeem, E., Langley, A., Tang, L. & Stein, B.D. (2011). Effects on school outcomes in low-income minority youth: preliminary findings from a community-partnered study of a school trauma intervention. Ethnicity & Disease. (Supp 21), 71-77.

Stein, B.D., Kataoka, S.H., Hamilton, A.B., Schultz, D., Ryan, G., Vona, P., Wong, M. (2010) School.  Personnel Perspectives on their School’s Implementation of a School-Based Suicide Prevention Program. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research. 37(3), 338-349.

Wong, M. (2009). Interventions to reduce psychological harm from traumatic events among children and adolescents, a commentary on the application of findings to the real world of schools. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 35(4), 398-400.

Dean, K., Langley, A., Kataoka, S., Jaycox, L. H., Wong, M. & Stein, B.D., (2009) School-Based Disaster Mental Health Services: Clinical, Policy, and Community Challenges.  Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.

Kataoka, S.H., Langley, A., Stein, B.D., Jaycox, L., Zhang, L., Sanchez, N. & Wong, M. (2009). Violence exposure and PTSD: The role of English language Fluency in Latino children. Journal of Child and Family Studies. 18, 334-341.

Jaycox, L.H, Langley A.K., Stein B.D., Wong, M., Sharma, P., Scott, M. & Schonlau, M. (2009). Support for Students Exposed to Trauma: A pilot study.  School Mental Health. 1(2), 49-60.

Kataoka, S., Nadeem, E., Wong, M., Langley, A., Jaycox, L., Stein, B. & Young, P. (2009) Improving disaster mental health care in schools: a community-partnered approach. Am J of Prev Med. 37(6S1): 225-229.

Kataoka, S.H., Langley, A., Stein, B.D., Jaycox, L., Zhang, L., Sanchez, N. & Wong, M. (2009). Violence exposure and PTSD: The role of English language Fluency in Latino children.  Journal of Child and Family Studies. 18, 334-341.

Jaycox  L.H, Langley A.K., Stein B.D., Wong, M., Sharma, P., Scott, M., Schonlau, M.  (2009). Support for Students Exposed to Trauma: A pilot study.  School Mental Health. 1(2), 49-60.

Dean, K., Langley, A., Kataoka, S., Jaycox, L. H., Wong, M. & Stein, B.D.  (2008).  School-based disaster mental health services: Clinical, policy, and community challenges.  Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. 39(1), 51-57

Wong M., Rosemond, M., Stein, B.D., Langley, A.K., Kataoka, S. & Nadeem, E. (2007). School-based intervention for adolescents exposed to violence. The Prevention Researcher.14:17-20

Stein, B. D., Jaycox, L. H., Langley, A., Kataoka, S. H., Wilkins, W. S., & Wong, M. (2007).Active parental consent for a school-based community violence screening:  comparing distribution methods. Journal of School Health. 77(3), 116-120

Wong, M. (2006). Commentary: Building partnerships between schools and academic partners to achieve a health-related research agenda. Ethn Dis., 16:S149-153.

Young, B.H., Ruzek, J.I., Wong, M., Salzer, M. & Naturale, A. (2006). Disaster mental health training: Guidelines, considerations, and recommendations. In E.C. Ritchie, P.J.Watson, & M.J. Friedman (Eds.), Interventions following mass violence and disasters. New York:Guilford Press. 54-79.

Jaycox, L.H., Kataoka, S.H., Stein, B.D., Wong, M., Langley, A. (2005) Responding to the Needs of the Community: A Stepped Care Approach to Implementing Trauma-Focused Interventions in Schools. Emotional and Behavioral Disorders in Youth. 5:85-88

Wong, M. (2004). Jane's Safe School Planning Guide. London: Jane's Information Group.

Wong, M. (2004). Jane's Teachers Safety Guide. London: Jane's Information Group.

Dean, K.L., Stein, B.D., Jaycox, L., Kataoka, S.H. & Wong, M. (2004) Acceptability of Asking Parents About Their Children’s Traumatic Symptoms. Psychiatric Services. 55:866.

Wong, M., Stein, B.D., Kataoka, S., Steiger, E.M. & Fink, A. A Guide for Intermediate and Long-Term Mental Health Services after School-Related Violent Events. SAMHSA Website.

Stein, B.D., Kataoka, S., Jaycox, L., Steiger, E.M., Wong, M., Fink, A., Escudero, P. & Zaragoza, C. (2003). The Mental Health for Immigrants Project: Program Design and Participatory Research in the Real World,” In M.D. Weist, S. W. Evans & N.A. Lever (Eds.), Handbook of School Mental Health Advancing Practice and Research. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, New York. 179-190.

Kataoka, S., Stein, B.D., Lieberman, R. & Wong, M. (2003) Suicide Prevention in Schools: Are We Reaching Minority Youths? Psychiatric Services. 54:1444.

Kataoka, S., Stein, B.D., Jaycox, L., Kataoka, S., Wong, M., Tu, W., Elliott, M., Fink A. (2003). A Mental Health Intervention for Schoolchildren Exposed to Violence: A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA, 290:603-611.

Kataoka, S., Stein, B.D., Jaycox, L., Wong, M., Escudero, P., Tu, W., Zaragoza, C. & Fink, A. (2003). A School-Based Mental Health Program for Traumatized Latino Immigrant Children.  Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 423:11-318.

Wong, M. (2002). Jane's School Safety Handbook. London: Jane's Information Group.

Wong, M., Stein, B.D., Kataoka, S., Jaycox, L., Arlene, F., Escudero, P. & Zaragoza, C. (2002). Theoretical Basis and Program Design of a School Based Mental Health Intervention for Traumatized Immigrant Children: A Collaborative Research Model., 29, 318-326.