Meet Dr. Jessica Cless, PhD

Dr. Jessica Cless
Assistant Professor for the Human Development and Family Sciences program

Dr. Jessica Cless is an Assistant Professor in the Human Development & Family Science Department at the University of Rhode Island. Cless works at a private therapy practice Dr. Cless has years of experience in the treatment of complex traumatic stress, and her research aims to further the field of trauma-informed family and community systems. 

“Your career starts while you’re in school, not after!”
Dr. Jessica Cless, PhD

Where are you from?

I was born in Wichita, KS and lived in Kansas my whole life until I moved to Rhode Island in 2021. 

What degree did you pursue and where?

All my degrees are from Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS – the LITTLE apple! I have a Bachelor’s degree in Family Studies with minors in Music, Conflict Resolution, and Conflict Analysis and Trauma Studies. I also have a Master’s degree and PhD in Couple and Family Therapy. 

When did you start working at URI?

I began as an Assistant Professor at URI in the Fall of 2021. 

Do you do any research? If not, which topics interest you the most?

My research program seeks to understand the overlaps of mental and physical health, including the long-term effects of trauma on overall health such as exercise, and how relationships impact our health decisions. 

In your opinion, what sets URI’s HDF program apart from other universities’ HDF programs?

URI’s HDF program is unique in that students are encouraged (and required!) to engage in hands-on experiential learning as they earn their degree. Students in HDF have real world experience before they look for their first job out of school, which is both important to learning and a major asset in today’s competitive job market. 

What do you like about the HDF program?

The people! I have great connections with our faculty, staff, and our students, which makes this a rewarding program to be a part of.

Any words of wisdom for undergraduates or graduate students?

Make the most out of your time in school and seek out opportunities that will help you grow and build experience. Your career starts while you’re in school, not after!