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Professor who developed therapy for uncurable mental illnesses wins 2017 Grawemeyer Award in Psychology

The institute’s mission is to transfer the principles of dialectical behavior therapy to more practitioners and to aid current practitioners with the burnout that can come with working with heard-to-treat patients.

Professor who developed therapy for ‘uncurable’ mental illnesses wins 2017 Grawemeyer Award in Psychology
By MELISSA CHIPMAN | December 3, 2016 6:00 am

Marsha Linehan, director of University of Washington’s Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics, Center for Behavioral Technology, has been selected as the 2017 Grawemeyer Award winner in Psychology.

Disorders like borderline personality and suicidal ideation have long been considered nearly impossible to treat, but Linehan has developed dialectical behavior therapy, which has shown positive effects during studies. The treatment is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches four skills to clients: mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotion regulation.

“In addition to being considered the state-of-the-art treatment for chronically suicidal individuals, dialectical behavior therapy has been found to be effective for other behavioral disorders, including eating disorders, addiction, anxiety related disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression,” said Professor Woody Petry, award director, in a news release.

Linehan is a Zen master and is credited for bringing Zen-informed practices, like “being fully present in the moment,” into mainstream psychotherapy.

“At a young age, I vowed to get myself out of hell and then to go back and get others out,” said Linehan, who acknowledged publicly in 2011 her own longtime struggle with suicidal ideation and behaviors similar to those found in borderline personality disorder.

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