Who is Lorna Smith Benjamin?

Lorna Smith Benjamin, PhD, ABPP, FDHC, is former President of the Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR); creator of Structural Analysis of Social Behaviour (SASB), an observational as well as self-rating method of assessing interpersonal and intrapsychic patterns. Professor emeritus of Psychology and adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Utah, she continues to teach part-time at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute and has maintained her clinical practice to this date. Dr. Benjamin was an advisor to the DSM-IV task force that defined personality disorders and is a co-author of the Wisconsin Personality Disorders Inventory (WISPI) as well as the American Psychiatric Association’s Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnosis according to DSM-IV Axis II Personality Disorders (SCID-II).

 

A step away from Harry Harlow, John Bowlby, Carl Whitaker and Carl Rogers

 

Dr. Benjamin’s contribution to the field of psychotherapy as a theorist, researcher and clinician has been significant. By her side, one is just a step away from fundamental contributors to important schools of psychotherapy. She has worked with John Bowlby, Harry Harlow, Carl Rogers and Carl Whitaker and they have directly influenced her work and research. Her doctoral dissertation with Harry Harlow and her work at his laboratory reflects her lasting interest in studying clinical phenomena using perspectives and methods of basic science.

 

Academic History

Lorna Smith Benjamin, PhD, ABPP, FDHC received her undergraduate degree from Oberlin College, and her PhD in Psychology in 1960 from the University of Wisconsin- Madison, specializing in Learning Theory, Psychophysiology and Mathematical Statistics. Her dissertation was with Harry Harlow and principles based on Attachment and Primatology have framed her research and practice. Her clinical internship and postdoctoral training were in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. There, she progressed from postdoctoral fellow to full professor, and taught Psychotherapy to psychiatry residents and psychology interns until she left in 1988 to go to the University of Utah, Department of Psychology. In 2012, she retired from her positions as Professor of Psychology, Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry and Founder of the Interpersonal Reconstructive Therapy (IRT) Clinic at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI). She continues to practice, teach, write and work with the IRT clinic research data.

 

Her methodological contributions include: statistics papers; Structural Analysis of Social Behaviour (SASB) and Interpersonal Reconstructive Therapy (IRT). Recently, she has proposed a version of Natural Biology that explains psychopathology in a way that clearly guide clinicians in activating mechanisms of change during psychotherapy, especially useful with cases that have been nonresponsive. An advisor to the workgroup on personality disorders for the DSM-IV, a consulting editor to two journals (Psychiatry; and Journal of Personality Disorders), her books include:

  • Benjamin, L. S. (1996/2003). Interpersonal diagnosis and treatment of personality disorders. N.Y. Guilford Press.
  • Benjamin, L. S. (2003/2006). Interpersonal Reconstructive Therapy: an integrative personality based treatment for complex cases. N.Y. Guilford Press.
  • Benjamin, L. S. IRT for Anger, Anxiety and Depression: it is about broken hearts, not broken brains (in press, American Psychological Association).

 

Her honours include Distinguished Research Career Award from the Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR); honorary degree (FDHC) from University of Umea, Sweden; Bruno Klopfer award for outstanding, long-term professional contribution to the field of personality assessment and a Festschrift about her work sponsored by the University of Utah, Department of Psychology. 2014 Distinguished Psychologist Award for Contributions to Psychology and Psychotherapy from Division 29 (psychotherapy) of American Psychological Association (APA).

 

Dr. Benjamin’s approach is called Interpersonal Reconstructive Therapy (IRT) and is especially useful for the diagnosis and treatment of personality disorders. She created Structural Analysis of Social Behaviour (SASB), which has been incorporated in many assessment methods including the CCRT, CMP, WISPI, OPD-2. Her use of SASB also informed the DSM-IV descriptions of personality disorder.

 

She is an author on two additional instruments for assessment of personality: the Wisconsin Personality Disorder Inventory (WISPI) and the Structured Interview for Clinical Diagnosis, Axis II. (SCID-II, now renamed SCID-PD to be consistent with the organization of DSM-V). Dr Benjamin continues to be a consulting editor to two journals (Psychiatry; and Journal of Personality Disorders). She also founded and directed the Interpersonal Reconstructive Therapy (IRT) Clinic at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute, with the help of Thomas Woolf, Hospital Director of Patient Services, and Ross VanVranken, Hospital Executive Director.

Links of interest

 

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