About the Author
Dr. Marra’s interest in psychology began quite early, where he began on a part-time basis to be a peer counselor at a local drug rehabilitation and drop-in house, Sunrise House, in Salinas California. This was when he was in high school. He later attended the University of the Pacific, graduating in 1977 in general psychology, with a firm grasp of behaviorism, but having a large dose of humanistic revolt about this as well. After graduating from the PhD program in San Diego, Dr. Marra did a post-doc residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, then was a military psychologist, practicing clinical psychology, and attempting to be “a good therapist” using an interpersonal, and behavioral orientation to treatment. He went to private practice in 1983.
About in 1992 he began to question the efficacy of his referrals for inpatient treatment, when his patients needed safety and protection from their suicidal behaviors. The traditional approach was strictly psychiatric, to provide them with psychotropic medications, stabilize them, and discharge them.
Dr. Marra thus formed the first privately owned and operated Psychiatric Health Facility licensed by the California State Department of Mental Health. The facility was a great success. While only 10% of all hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) receive commendation, we received it on the first examination! It was due to the treatment adherence of our staff, all excited about the DBT approach, and having received extensive full-time training in the approach prior to be opening of the Facility . And during the subsequent 24 years he has been using DBT on inpatient, outpatient, and general practice populations. He’s also been conducting seminars and workshops for therapists to introduce and train them into the DBT technology.
He is the author of two books on DBT, one a workbook for clients, and the other a comprehensive textbook of DBT principles and practice for professionals. He has conducted randomized clinical control research on DBT (Marra, 2010).