Marsha M. Linehan
5 May 1943
Tulsa, United States
|Alma mater||Loyola University Chicago|
|Occupation||psychologist, professor, author|
Marsha M. Linehan (born May 5, 1943) is an American psychologist and author. Linehan is a Professor of Psychology, Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington and Director of the Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics. Her primary research is in the application of behavioral models to suicidal behaviors, drug abuse, and borderline personality disorder. She is also working to develop models for transferring treatments from the research academy to the clinical community.
Linehan is the developer of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a type of psychotherapy that combines behavioral science with concepts of acceptance and mindfulness, derived from contemplative practices.
Education and awards 
Linehan was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1961 she became a resident at the Institute of Living in Hartford, first diagnosed with schizophrenia after injuring herself. She was treated for "extreme social withdrawal" and suffered from what would later become known as borderline personality disorder. Linehan later attended Loyola University in Chicago in 1968 where she graduated cum laude with a B.S in Psychology. She continued her education at Loyola University, receiving a M.A in 1970 and Ph.D. in 1971, both in Clinical Psychology. During her time at Loyola University, Linehan served as lecturer for the psychology program. After leaving Loyola University, Linehan started her predoctoral internship at The Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service in Buffalo, New York between 1971-1972. During this time, Linehan served as an adjunct assistant professor at University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. From Buffalo, Linehan completed her Post-Doctoral fellowship in Behavior Modification at Stony Brook University. Linehan then returned to her alma mater Loyola University in 1973 and served as an adjunct professor at the university until 1975. During this same time Linehan also served as an Assistant Professor in Psychology at The Catholic University of America from 1973 to 1977. In 1977, Linehan took a position at the University of Washington as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Psychiatry and Behavior Sciences department. Linehan is now a Professor of Psychology and a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington and Director of the Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics.
Linehan is the past-president of the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, a fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychopathological Association and a diplomat of the American Board of Behavioral Psychology.
Linehan has earned several awards for her research and clinical work, including the Louis Israel Dublin award for Lifetime Achievement in the Field of Suicide in 1999, The Outstanding Educator Award for Mental Health Education from the New England Educational Institute in 2004, and Career Achievement Award from the American Psychological Association in 2005.
Linehan has authored three books, including two treatment manuals: Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder and Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder. She has also published extensively in scientific journals.
- Research Article: Lineha M et al. Two-Year Randomized Controlled Trial and Follow-up of Dialectical Behavior Therapy vs Therapy by Experts for Suicidal Behaviors and Borderline Personality Disorder. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006;63:757-766.
- Review Article: Lieb K et al. Borderline personality disorder. Lancet. 2004;364:453-61.
During a speech at the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut on June 17, 2011, Dr. Linehan disclosed that she suffered from borderline personality disorder. In an article published at the New York Times website on June 23, 2011, she disclosed her own history of self-harm and multiple suicide attempts, as well as her own efforts through therapy to recover from the disorder and live a healthy, productive life.
Dr. Linehan developed DBT as a result of her own transformation that occurred in 1967, while she prayed in a small Catholic chapel in Chicago. She describes the situation in detail; "One night I was kneeling in there, looking up at the cross, and the whole place became gold - and suddenly I felt something coming toward me… It was this shimmering experience, and I just ran back to my room and said, 'I love myself.' It was the first time I remembered talking to myself in the first person. I felt transformed." Linehan, then, takes this “radical acceptance,” as she calls it, and incorporates it into the techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy meant to change the harmful behavior of a self-cutter or a person who battles chronic suicidal ideations. In essence, DBT strives for a balance between acceptance and change, or integrating contradictory philosophies (“you are loved the way you are,” however, “you must strive to change”).
See also 
- University of Washington faculty website
- NYTimes. Expert on Mental Illness Reveals Her Own Fight. June 23 2011
- Martin Bohus, "Introduction: Marsha Linehan, Ph.D.", Institute of Living, Hartford, Connecticut, June 17, 2011.
- Benedict Carey, "Expert on Mental Illness Reveals Her Own Fight", New York Times, 2011/06/23.
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- Behavioral Tech website
- Portland Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program
- Article on DBT use among incarcerated females
- Linehan, M. M. (1995). Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder:The Dialectic Approach program manual. New York: Guilford Press
- Linehan, M. M. (1993). Skills Training Manual For Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. New York Guilford Press.
- Curriculum Vitae regarding Marsha M. Linehan (and biography)
- Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics
- Link is to a site that gives a brief overview of DBT
- Interesting article on how DBT has been used in the treatment of Female Juvenile Offenders
- Report of success of Linehan's treatment model in Washington State with Juvenile Offenders
- Review of Publication on Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Borderline Personality Disorder
- UW Lecture 2007, "Suicidal Individuals: Evaluation, Therapies, and Ethics"
- Society for Dialectical Behaviour Therapy - Society for Dialectical Behaviour Therapy