Susan M. Swearer, Ph.D. Willa Cather Professor of Educational Psychology Professor of School Psychology, Department of Educational Psychology Director, Empowerment Initiative Co-Director, Bullying Research Network
Over the past decade, Susan Swearer has developed and implemented a data-based decision-making model for responding to bullying among school-aged youth and has conducted school staff trainings to establish cost-effective and data-based strategies to reduce bullying behaviors. She is the co-author of “Bullying Prevention and Intervention: Realistic Strategies for Schools” (2009) and co-editor of the books “Handbook of Bullying in Schools: An International Perspective” (2010) and “Bullying in North American Schools, 2nd edition” (2011). She has also authored over 100 book chapters and articles on the topics of bullying, depression and anxiety in school-aged youth.
Swearer's research interests include bullying prevention and intervention; the comorbidity of psychological disorders in children and adolescents; developmental issues in psychopathology; the relationship between internalizing psychopathology and externalizing behavior; and cognitive-behavioral interventions with youth and their families. Her current research projects include the development of a cognitive-behavioral intervention for youth who bully others; factors that influence the development of kindness and bravery; using participatory action research to change local norms related to bullying; and other studies that can be found at the Empowerment Initiative.
Since coming to UNL, Swearer has taught the following graduate courses: Developmental Psychopathology, Small N Research Design, Cognitive and Behavioral Interventions with Children and Adolescents, Child and Adolescent Therapy Doctoral Practicum, Advanced Doctoral Practicum in Child and Adolescent Therapy, Doctoral Externship in School Psychology, Community Practice in School Psychology, Ethical and Professional Practice in School Psychology, and Doctoral Research Seminar. Swearer is a licensed psychologist in the state of Nebraska, the director of the Empowerment Initiative, co-director of the Bullying Research Network, chair of the research advisory board for the Born This Way Foundation and is a supervising psychologist in the Counseling and School Psychology Clinic.
Swearer’s “Target Bullying Intervention Program” was featured on CBS Sunday Morning in February 2011; she was an invited presenter at the White House Bullying Prevention Conference in March 2011; and she was a panel member at Harvard University for the launch of the Born This Way Foundation, along with Lady Gaga, Oprah, Deepak Chopra and Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelieus in February 2012. In March 2012, Swearer was a featured bullying expert on Anderson Cooper’s daytime show, “Anderson.” From January to March 2013, she toured with Lady Gaga and the Born This Way Foundation on the Born Brave Bus, a youth empowerment experience that has reached over 70,000 participants.
Swearer received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Swarthmore College in 1987, her master’s degree in special education from The Pennsylvania State University in 1989 and her doctorate in school psychology from The University of Texas at Austin in 1997. She has been a high school special education teacher for students with emotional and behavioral disorders and has worked as a licensed professional counselor with children, adolescents, and families in residential treatment, inpatient, and outpatient settings. She completed her pre-doctoral internship with the Nebraska Internship Consortium in Professional Psychology at Boys Town (APA approved) in Omaha, Nebraska. Swearer joined the faculty in the school psychology program at UNL in 1997.