Q&A with Marsha

Marsha Linehan sits down with Ursula Whiteside and answers questions about her soon to be released memoir, “Building a Life Worth Living”, why she developed DBT, and what makes her happy (including her dog, Toby Baby Boy). Marsha’s personal and touching responses will resonate with many of us – colleagues, friends, and clients alike, whose lives have been touched by her work.

On Disclosure of Treatment History & Value of DBT

Question 1:  Marsha, this question comes from a graduate student. They write: I’ve had therapy for suicidal ideation and behaviors in the past and now I’m a graduate student studying to become a psychologist. How open should I be about my treatment history?

Question 2:  Marsha, people often write to you and say that DBT has saved or changed their lives. How do you feel when people tell you that?


On Spirituality

Question 3:  Your spirituality is a constant theme in your memoir. How much of it contributed to your effort to creating a life worth living?

Question 4:  Marsha, for some people, spirituality isn’t a big part of their life.  Do you think that spirituality is necessary for creating a life worth living?


On Hope, Helping Others & Having a Purpose in Life

Question 5:  What do you say to people who have lost all hope and who are stuck in a very dark place and cannot imagine a better life?

Question 6:  Do you think that helping others is what kept you alive?


Advice to Psychology Students and Younger Self

Question 7:  What advice would you give to psychology students or aspiring psychologists?

Question 8:  If you could give advice to your young self, what would it be?


On Getting Out of Hell

Question 9:  Marsha, you often say that you developed DBT to get people out of hell. Tell us what you mean by “hell”.

Question 10:  What’s the main message of your memoir?

Question 11:  Some might feel like it’s not actually possible for them. What if someone were to say “No, Marsha, you were able to do it because you’re Marsha Linehan. You are the exception.”


On Love

Question 12:  What makes you happy, Marsha?

Question 13:  Tell us about your dog, Toby Baby Boy?


On Influence

Question 14: Most authors hope that their books are well-received or are successful.  How do you measure your memoir’s success?

Question 15:  Who has been the most influential or inspirational figure in your life?


My Parents

Question 16: You were born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma and you had 5 siblings. Tell us about the house that you grew up in.

Question 17:  If your parents were alive today, what would they think of you or the person you’ve become?


In My Youth

Question 18: What are some of the things that you were good at when you were a kid?

Question 19:  You played the piano when you were young.   Tell us how you feel about playing the piano.


The Importance of Kindness

Question 20: There were a few acts of kindness that have stayed with you for a long time. One was of the police driving you back to the Institute of Living after an escape; others involved your brother Earl.

Can you tell us the story of Earl bringing you food and getting you out of the Cook County Insane Asylum?


On Life, a Sense of Purpose and What I Will Miss the Most

Question 21: If you die and go to heaven today, Marsha (God forbid!), what are some of the things that you would miss most in life?

Question 22: How do you want people to remember you?

Question 23:  What is it about “helping others” that’s so compelling to you?


On the Future of DBT and Effective Treatments

Question 24: Someday, none of us will be here and there’ll be generations of clinician-scientists who’ll have never met you. What do you want to say to them?

Question 25: Marsha, do you think DBT will be around in 100 years and that people will still practice it?


On Failures and Setbacks

Question 26:  I have a friend who feels demoralized because of her frequent setbacks. Marsha, what would you say to someone who’s failed again and again?


The UW Department of Psychology has launched a philanthropic campaign to create the Dr. Marsha Linehan Endowed Chair in Psychology. Please consider making a contribution in honor of Dr. Linehan’s legacy and impact today. Read more »