When he was still a graduate student in the 1970s, Michael Hollander’s first patient was an adolescent who was in a great deal of emotional pain.
“She was suicidal, self-injurious, and probably would have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder had we been able to do that in those days in patients under 18 years old,” Hollander said. New research now confirms that this is a disorder that can be diagnosed in adolescents.
Michael R. Hollander, PhD, who retired in September from his position as Endowed Director, Training and Consultations, at McLean’s 3East continuum, is a nationally recognized expert on borderline personality disorder (BPD) and the causation and treatment of self-injury.
In addition to his work at 3East, he was a supervisor in McLean’s mentalization-based treatment (MBT) clinic and served on the faculty of the McLean/Massachusetts General Hospital Child Psychiatry Fellowship Program, recognized as Teacher of the Year in 1996.
Since 2004, he has been a trainer for Behavior Tech, the organization founded by Marsha Linehan, the creator of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), training clinicians in this seminal treatment nationally and internationally.
From the very beginning, he said, the intense struggles of young people with BPD captured his attention. From his earliest career days, he worked with them as often as he could. He was unafraid to linger with these patients in their struggles, and to understand it from their point of view.
Early Years at McLean and Discovering DBT
Hollander received his PhD at Michigan State University and arrived at McLean in 1979 to complete his two-year post-doctoral fellowship in clinical adolescent psychology.
After his post-doc, he was hired as a staff psychologist in the hospital’s adolescent day service and was an attending clinician at the adolescent and family treatment unit.
The advent of managed care in the mid-1980s reduced the length of inpatient hospitalizations, requiring the development of alternative treatments outside of secure settings.
During this time, Hollander was part of a team that established an adolescent day program at McLean. Eventually, the hospital added a residential program, which became the first iteration of its Adolescent Residential Treatment (ART) Program, where he served as director.