Mary Olson – Long Bio


Mary Olson, PhD, is the director of the Institute for Dialogic Practice and an international lecturer and trainer in the fields of family therapy and community psychiatry.¬† She co-leads the Open Dialogue study at the University of Massachusetts Medical School where she is an assistant professor in psychiatry.¬† She has taught at the Smith College School for Social Work for many years and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.¬† In 2001, Mary was Senior Fulbright Scholar to Finland in the Department of Clinical Psychology at the University of Jyv√§skyl√§. A member of the American Academy of Family Therapists., she maintains an active clinical practice specializing in the problems of adolescence and young adulthood. She gives talks, presentations, and workshops at national and international conferences and consults to a variety of organizations. Formerly, she was director of the Clinical Externship in Family Therapy at Berkshire Medical Center. Her work has been published in Family Process and other international journals. She has degrees in comparative literature from Wellesley and Columbia, an MSW from Smith, and a doctorate in postmodern communication from the University of Massachusetts‚ÄĒAmherst.


Her main interests are language-oriented, systemic, and relational approaches to psychotherapy and the project of democratic, socially just, compassionate mental health work. Specific areas include research on communication-based approaches to psychiatric crises, developing training methods for dialogical and reflecting practices, dialogical transformation in therapy, and research on larger systems. She also has had a lifelong interest in writing and all forms of art and creativity.