Professor recognized for work with dialectical behavior therapy

Alan Fruzzetti receives the International Society for Dialectical Behavior Therapy's Outstanding Researcher Award

12/19/2013 | By: Annie Conway  |

Alan Fruzzetti, associate professor and director of the dialectical behavior therapy and research program at the University of Nevada, Reno, received the prestigious International Society for Dialectical Behavior Therapy's Outstanding Researcher Award last month at the 18th annual National DBT meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

Dialectical behavior therapy strives to help people with problems like self-harm, suicidality, substance abuse problems and depression. DBT was developed by Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington where Fruzzetti received his master's and doctorate degrees. Linehan presented Fruzzetti with the award, which is given only once every three years, at the meeting.

"I was surprised and but very pleased," Fruzzetti said. "For me, I have spent my career doing DBT-related things and it is nice to be recognized. But research is a collaboration. There is no research project that is just mine; it always involves other people and the award reflects these collaborations with colleagues and graduate students."

One of these collaborations is a program Fruzzetti and a colleague started 12 years ago called Family Connections. This is a grassroots program meant to treat or train relatives of people with borderline personality disorder. It is a free 12-week program with the intention that those who are trained then train others to help as many people as possible. Upwards of 5,000 people have been trained through the program.

"It is a very popular program expanding throughout the United States," Fruzzetti said. "It has been adopted in 16 other countries."

Fruzzetti works with doctorial students at the University with a DBT clinic that services and treats adults, couples, families, older teenagers, victims of domestic violence and others in the greater northern Nevada area.

"DBT is the best researched treatment for these problems," Fruzzetti said. "It has better outcomes then other treatments, and by working on improving the treatments and isolating the factors that are responsible for its success, we can continue to improve the treatment, which is good for people with these serious disorders and for their family members. "Fruzzetti also wrote a book in 2006 titled The High Conflict Couple, which has been translated into multiple languages. It is directed at couples where one or both partners have problems regulating their emotions.

According to the International Society for Dialectical Behavior Therapy, "Dr. Fruzzetti's research on training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy validation, couples therapy, families and Family Connections, DBT for women victims of domestic violence, mechanisms of change, and his collaborations on DBT for college students/young adults all have had a huge impact on training and treatment development, and the alleviation of suffering in both people who suffer with serious disorders and their families."

Contact the University's Department of Psychology for more information.


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