Mary Olson, Ph.D.

The Mill River Institute for Dialogic Practice
132 Main Street, P.O. Box 905
Haydenville, MA 01039

Phone: +1 (413) 237-2528 


Associate Professor (Adjunct)
Smith College School for Social Work
Lilly Hall
Northampton, MA 01063

Mobile: 413-237-2528

Mary Olson, Ph.D. is the founding Director of the Institute for Dialogic Practice. She is a communication scholar and family therapist. A highly regarded teacher and clinical trainer, she is on the faculty of Smith College School for Social Work. She lectures widely, gives workshops, and consults to mental health agencies and human service organizations, in the U.S. and internationally

Mary has specialized in developing ways of training people in dialogical and reflecting processes. Her current scholarship and research examine transformative dialogue in therapy. As adjunct faculty at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, she is Co-Principal Investigator (Douglas Ziedonis, M.D.:PI) of the proposed Open Dialogue research study there. In 2001-2002, she was Senior Fulbright Scholar to Finland in the Department of Psychology at the University of Jyvaskyla. While there, she completed an ethnographic study of Open Dialogue by visiting the original team at Keropudas Hospital in Tornio, Finland and Tom Andersen’s group in Tromso, Norway. In addition to the Fulbright, she has received research support from the National Science Foundation among other sources. From 1990-1995, she was Director of the Clinical Externship in Systemic Family Therapy at Berkshire Medical Center.

She has several publications in international journals including key articles on Open Dialogue and dialogical therapy and edited a book of essays on gender entitled, “Feminism, Community, and Communication (Haworth, 2001). She is a member of the American Family Therapy Academy. 

 A graduate of Wellesley College, she has an M.A., with high honors, in English and comparative literature from Columbia University and an M.S.W. from Smith College. She received her Ph.D. in communication from the University of Massachusetts.