Yvonne Smith

Associate Professor

Yvonne (Eevie) Smith studies social work and youth care practice in residential treatment centers for children (RTCs). Her most recent study investigates the unique challenges and opportunities of hiring, training, and retaining an expert workforce in RTCs where client violence, intensive regulatory oversight, and moral distress are an everyday part work. Her previous ethnographic study explores the complex ways that mental health workers in RTCs use knowledge from multiple sources to shape their practice. She found that workers value the expertise they develop on the job, pointing to a need for greater recognition and transmission of organization-specific local knowledge. In partnership with colleagues in Falk College, Eevie is leading an effort to design and pilot a supportive group intervention to help youth care workers reduce burnout and turnover and better manage the demands of their important work.

Eevie has practiced in a range of social work settings, including residential treatment for adolescents with mental illness, harm reduction outreach with substance users, supportive and transitional housing, and therapeutic foster care. She has an interest in milieu-based interventions and the growing area of animal-assisted therapies.


Ph.D., School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago

Master of Arts in Social Work (A.M.), School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago

Bachelor of Art (B.A.) in English, Ohio Wesleyan University


workforce issues in youth residential treatment, clinical expertise and decision-making, apprenticeship learning in social work practice, psychotherapeutic process, ethnographic methods, animals in social work


SWK 328: Human Diversity in Social Contexts

SWK 403/603: Social Work and the Human-Animal Bond

SWK 626: Persons in Social Context

SKW 628: Human Diversity in Social Contexts

SWK 743: Advanced Integrated Social Work Practice

Recent Publications

  • Smith, Y. & Golomb-Leavitt, A. (in press). Working with people who have lost a pet: Cultural perspectives on cross-species grief. In P. Erdman & L. Kogan (Eds.). Pet Loss, Grief, and Therapeutic Interventions: Practitioners Navigating the Human-Animal Bond. New York: Routledge.
  • Smith, Y., & Colletta, L. (2019). Intensive oversight of youth residential treatment: Staff perspectives on the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. Child Abuse and Neglect, 91, 52-62.
  • Bergen-Cico, D., Smith, Y., Gooley, C. P., Hannon, K., Woodruff, R., Spicer, M., & Gump, B. (2018). Dog ownership and training reduces post-traumatic stress symptoms and increases self-compassion among veterans: Results of a longitudinal control study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. [OnlineFirst, issue forthcoming]
  • Smith, Y., Colletta, L., & Bender, A.E. (2018). Moral people or moral projects?: Worker altruism in youth residential treatment. Culture, Medicine, & Psychiatry, 43(1), 25-55.
  • Smith, Y. (2018). Pets and human diversity: Toward culturally competent, culturally humble psychotherapy. In L. Kogan & C. Blazina (Eds.) Clinician's Guide to Treating Companion Animal Issues (pp. 477-496). Cambridge, MA: Elsevier/Academic Press.
  • Smith, Y., Colletta, L., Bender, A.E. (2017). Client violence against youth care workers: Findings of an exploratory study of workforce issues in residential treatment. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. [OnlineFirst, issue forthcoming].
  • Smith, Y. (2017) Beyond “common sense”: The role of local knowledge in youth residential treatment. Social Work Research, 41(4), 221-234.
  • Smith, Y. (2017). “Sense” and sensitivity: Informal apprenticeship among youth care workers in a residential treatment center for children. Child and Family Social Work, 22, 1330-1337.