The University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Phyllis Thompson, PhD

Phyllis Thompson, PhD, LCSW
Clinical Associate Professor

Biographical Statement

Phyllis Thompson, Ph.D., LCSW, is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Doctorate of Social Work online program. She obtained her PhD in 2010 from the University of Utah’s College of Social Work. Her interest in how environment affects gene expression (Epigenetics) and the neuro system within human development was ignited when she taught for UT College of Social Work, Nashville during 2007-2009. Between 2009-2014 she served as an Assistant Professor for Our Lady of the Lake Worden School of Social Work in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Thompson was appointed as MSW Director in 2013 and promoted to Associate Professor prior to leaving and returning to the University of TN during the summer of 2014. She has extensive experience in curriculum and program development in evidence-based clinical practice, direct clinical practice with Hispanic children and families, and teaching graduate level social work courses in the classroom and online.

Dr. Thompson’s clinical background includes serving patients by providing evaluative and therapeutic services to thousands of families when there were concerns of sexual abuse from 1998-2008 at Our Kids Center in Nashville, TN. She also maintained her own private practice where she provided services to adults who experienced trauma.  In 2004 she was promoted to Instructor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University and in 2005 she was also hired as a Clinical Instructor for Vanderbilt University School of Nursing for their forensic program. These appointments provided her the opportunity to teach professionals and medical providers from across the country about evidence-based practices and skills for responding to children and families when there were concerns of sexual abuse and violence.

Overarching goals Dr. Thompson maintains as a social work educator includes stimulating intellectual, professional and personal development of students; inspiring a personal commitment towards social justice; and celebrating diversity so that students can begin identifying the strengths of their own culture, the strengths of others, and begin to recognize common interests that help to build strong learning communities. She has conducted numerous presentations at the international, national, and state levels and has several publications.


  • MSW University of Minnesota
  • PhD University of Utah

Research Interests

  • Teaching and online Learning
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Trauma


Courses Taught

  • Foundations of Social Work Practice III (SW504)
  • Social Work and Social Welfare Policies and Programs (SW510)
  • Lifespan and Neurophysiologic Development in a Cultural Ecological and Transactional Framework (SW513) 
  • Social, Economic, and Political Environments (SW512)
  • Foundations of Evidence Based Practice (SW520)
  • Introduction to Psychopathology and Social Work Practice (SW537)
  • Social Work Practice with At-Risk Populations (SW538)
  • Child Abuse and Neglect (SW540)
  • Evidence-based Practice with Children and Adolescents (SW571)
  • Neurophysiologic Development in Social Work (SW593)
  • Trauma Focused Interventions (SW618)
  • Clinical Leadership (SW621)
  • Emergent Intervention Methods for Complex Populations (SW623)


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