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December 4, 2014

Obituary: Carol M. Anderson

Carol_MariaCarol M. Anderson, professor emerita of psychiatry and social work, died Nov. 20, 2014, of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at her home in Pittsburgh. She was 75.

Known for developing the psychoeducation model of intervention for individuals with schizophrenia and their families, she developed approaches that educated families and allowed them to play a supportive role in the treatment of individuals with mental illness.

In addition to her focus on the impact of mental illness on families, Anderson’s research interests included access to mental health care, barriers to services and issues related to engaging low-income mothers and other individuals in mental health treatment.

A native of Minnesota, Anderson earned a bachelor’s degree in child development and psychology in 1961 and master’s in social work in 1964 at the University of Minnesota. She earned a PhD in interpersonal communication at Pitt in 1981.

She joined the faculty at the Yale University School of Medicine in 1968 and rose to become the chief psychiatric social worker in its psychiatry department.

She was among the faculty who followed Thomas Detre when he left Yale in 1973 to head Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC), and chair the School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry. Detre invited Anderson to help establish a family therapy clinic at WPIC.

Anderson joined the Pitt faculty as an associate professor of psychiatry in 1973 and received a joint appointment in social work in 1977. She was promoted to professor in 1987.

She was awarded professor emerita status in 2010.

While a faculty member here, Anderson at various times was director of WPIC’s family therapy clinic family therapy institute, director of family research-affective disorders, director of family studies and social work, director of the brief treatment center for children and families and director of child and adolescent outpatient services.

She served as WPIC associate administrator 1987-89, then as administrator 1989-94, before becoming UPMC’s vice president for patient and family psychiatric services.

In a prepared statement, Jeffrey Romoff, UPMC president and CEO, commented: “Carol’s intelligence, warmth and kindness made her an accomplished professional and a wonderful friend. I join the rest of my colleagues in celebrating the contributions she made to UPMC and the community — both personally and professionally.”

Anderson served the field of family therapy as editor of the Family Process Journal, 1999-2003, and as a member of the journal’s board of advisory editors. She was president of the American Family Therapy Academy professional society (AFTA), 1988-89.

She also was a member of the American Psychopathological Association, the Association for Clinical Psychosocial Research, the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and the Groves Conference on Marriage and the Family.

Among numerous honors, Anderson received an award for Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy in 1985 from AFTA and another from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy in 1987. She was named a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in 1992.

Anderson authored numerous publications including three books: “Mastering Resistance: A Practical Guide to Family Therapy”; “Schizophrenia and the Family: A Practitioner’s Guide to Psychoeducation and Management,” and “Flying Solo: Single Women in Midlife.”

She is survived by her daughter, Maria Elena Anderson, a therapist at the WPIC STAR Center; three sisters, and 13 nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to the University’s Center for ALS Research in care of the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Medical and Health Sciences Foundation, Forbes Tower Suite 8084, 3600 Forbes Ave. at Meyran Avenue, Pittsburgh 15213.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 47 Issue 8