Suzanne Merlis

Suzanne Merlis

Forensic Adjunct Faculty
  • Assistant Professor
    Clinical Psychology
  • The Chicago School Los Angeles
Forensic Psychology
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (Online)
617 W 7th St Los Angeles, CA 90017
617 W 7th St
Office Location
617 W. 7th St.
Office Phone
On-campus Ext.
Dr. Merlis holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a Doctorate of Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She specializes in refugee mental health and addressing severe and prolonged trauma including torture. She has worked with community mental health services for refugees providing therapy, assessment, consultation, training, and supervising staff and doctoral-level trainees. She has served on a number of boards and community organizations committed to improving the lives of refugees and other marginalized groups. Dr. Merlis also works with individuals, couples, and families struggling with trauma, depression, anxiety, grief, and acute and chronic health issues. Additionally, she currently provides pro bono therapeutic services for the Venice Family Clinic in Santa Monica, CA.
  • B.A., Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Chicago
  • Clinical Psychologist
Areas Of Expertise


Describe your teaching philosophy.

My teaching philosophy is built on upon the pursuit of learning and the development of professional identity. In the classroom, I adapt to a variety of learning styles and use different approaches to material including didactic, kinesthetic, and visual as well as drawing from clinical experiences and case discussions to apply to real life practice. I strive to inspire and encourage students to think critically, be curious, and to be active participants in their own learning process. I am also interested in engaging students in a reflective process where they evaluate as well as challenge their own world views. Additionally, I encourage students to be agents of change in systemic ways and to work towards prevention of psychological distress in our communities.

Statement and/or philosophy regarding the practice of psychology.

The practice of psychology is constantly evolving which brings new developments, excitement, and an array of diverse opportunities both at home and abroad. Our field offers unique opportunities for both professional and personal growth with it's emphasis on making a difference in the lives of others. And with the notion that psychologists are dedicated to human service and understanding, we should continue to bring psychology out of the private fold of psychotherapy and, into the larger fold of our communities and those who have limited access to our services . Building community as well as international relationships encourages the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and paves the path towards effective systemic change for consumers and professionals of mental health services.

Why did you choose to enter the field of psychology?

Like many in the mental health field, my personal life experiences brought me into the field of psychology. My initial interest lay in gaining an understanding of human behavior , relationships, and the developmental narrative . When I was given the opportunity to put my knowledge into practice, my interests and skills grew along with my passion for the field and the personal satisfaction I gained from helping those in need.

What advice would you give to a student entering The Chicago School?

My best piece of advice is to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities to learn, to challenge yourself and others, and to make the mistakes that will propel you from the novice to the expert clinician. Also make sure to cultivate your professional community including building relationships with professors, mentors, supervisors, and peers.

Select Publications

  • Merlis, S., Linville, D. ( 2006). Exploring a Communities Response to Lesbian Domestic Violence Through the Voices of Providers: A Qualitative Study, Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 18, 97-136
  • Rosen, S. ( 2002). Exploring the Lesbian Communitiea Response to Lesbian Domestic Violence Through a Femisist Perspective: A Qualitative Stduy. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Chicago School of Professional Psychology
  • Green, L. , Myerson, J, Roen, S,. Lichtman, D, and Fry, A. ( 1996). Temporarl Discounting in the Choice between Delayed Rewards; The Role of Age and Income, Psychology of Aging, 11, 79-84

Select Presentations

  • Merlis, S, Gard, B., Jain, S. Marsella, A., Shahar, F. (2007). Shrinking for the Greater Good: Psychologists in the Public Interest. Annual Meeting, Georgia Psychological Association, Atlanta, Georgia, May, 2007
  • Merlis, S. (2006). The Political Asylum Process and Psychological Affidavits. Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, November 2006
  • Merlis, S. (2006). Refugee Experience and Cross-Cultural Interpreting. Refugee Family Services, Stone Mountain, Georgia, November 2006
  • Merlis, S., Jurkovic, G, Kelley, K. (2006). Cross Cultural Treatment of Trauma with Survivors of Torture and Organized Violence. Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia October 2006
  • Merlis, S. (2004). Psychotherapy as a Foundation for Healing. Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture. Poster presented at the 20th annual meeting of The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies New Orleans, Louisiana, November 2004

Professional Memberships

  • American Psychological Association- Member
  • Georgia Psychological Association (GPA)
  • International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
  • Jean Baker Miller Training Institute Research Network-Member
  • Atlanta Asylum Network

Community Involvement

  • Chair, Psychologists in the Public Interest, GPA, (2006-2007)
  • Co-Chair, Shalom Bayit Committee, Domestic Violence Program, Jewish Family and Career Services, (2006-2007)
  • Executive Board, Legislative Representative, Women’s Division F, GPA (2005-2007)
  • Member, Advisory Committee, Center for Torture and Trauma Survivors (CTTS), (2005-2007)