At Heartland Therapy Connection we have a number of therapists who are trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. We believe DBT is a therapeutic modality that can help many persons, especially those who face Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Marsha Linehan is a forerunner and woman in the field of psychology and psychotherapy who created DBT in the 1970’s and is known for her work contributions to BPD.

We honor her knowledge and wisdom that has impacted countless people. She currently resides in Seattle Washington and is an Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, an Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle and Director of the Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics. She was born on May 5, 1943 and is now 79 years old.

Early Days of Marsha Linehan

Marsha Linehan was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma along with her five siblings. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia as an adolescent and was hospitalized at a mental health institution. During this time in Linehan’s life, she experienced electrocompulsive therapy, seclusion, and medication such as Thorazine. Upon her release she did not take psychotropic medications moving forward, and Linehan believes that she was misdiagnosed and that the proper diagnosis was Borderline Personality Disorder.

Marsha Linehan, DBT

Creating DBT

Linehan publicly announced in 2011 that she had experienced suicidality in an
ongoing way along with maladaptive behaviors and shared “At a young age, I vowed to get myself out of hell and then to go back and get others out.” (Mental Health Weekly Digest, 2016, p. 100).

Marsha Linehan attended Loyola University in Chicago and eventually pursued and received her PhD in social and experimental personality psychology. Linehan designed DBT as an evidence-based treatment modality by borrowing concepts from Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Eastern practices such as Zen, and adding in validation to bring acceptance and change to patients. Linehan took notice that many persons who face suicidal thoughts long-term grow up in invalidating environments.

This identification led her to focus on crafting DBT to emphasize the creation of a therapeutic alliance between patients and therapists. This would take place by means of validation of feelings, as well as creating space to recognize in safety that certain patient behaviors are not beneficial to their life. This alliance is then able to forge a foundation for skills to be built by focusing on four sections of DBT: mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness/skills. DBT is one of the only psychosocial treatments available for patients who face suicidal ideation, and DBT has has multiple studies and several randomized trials to support it (Franklin, 2004, p. 36).

DBT is a therapeutic modality that can be applied in individual sessions, group therapy, outpatient programs, and in inpatient centers. If you are interested in learning more about DBT in a therapeutic setting, reach out to us at Heartland Therapy Connection! We would love to connect with you and offer validation for your experience, and the support to build skills to enhance your life and welfare.


Building a Life Worth Living: A Memoir –

Franklin, Deeanna. “Developer of DBT predicts wider use of modality: Marsha M. Linehan, Ph.D., thinks suicidal patients other than those diagnosed with BPD would benefit.” Clinical Psychiatry News, vol. 32, no. 10, Oct. 2004, p. 36. Gale General OneFile, Accessed 23 Feb. 2023.

“Marsha Linehan wins Grawemeyer Award for Psychology.” Mental Health Weekly Digest, 12 Dec. 2016, p. 100. Gale General OneFile, Accessed 23 Feb. 2023.

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