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In Memoriam: Seth Axelrod, PhD

January 26, 2022

It is with immense sadness that we share that Seth Axelrod, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, Director of Dialectical Behavior Therapy Services and Director of the Yale Instruction/Investigation/Intervention in Emotional Lability and Dysregulation (YIELD) died January 25, 2022 after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

Seth first came to Yale as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2000 and became Director of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Services within the Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital Intensive Outpatient Program in 2003. He received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kentucky in 1999 and completed Intensive Training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy with Drs. Marsha Linehan, Kelly Koerner, Linda Dimeff, and Katherine Comtois in 2003.

Throughout his tenure at Yale, Seth has been a passionate and devoted leader in the care of individuals with severe personality disorders and in the application of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. He has been a tireless teacher and advocate of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy training and has written and lectured extensively in adaptations of DBT in different settings and populations.

For nearly two decades, Seth has led the clinical care, program development and supervision and training of clinicians through the Yale New Haven Hospital Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Service. In doing so, he built an outstanding nationally recognized clinical service and DBT training program, and transformed the lives of countless patients and students in this role. He has been a trainer/consultant with Behavioral Tech, LLC, an organization developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan to disseminate DBT and other evidenced-based therapies. He also served as a founder and Co-Chair of the internationally regarded Yale annual conference on Borderline Personality Disorder in partnership with the National Education Alliance for BPD since 2006 (with his dear friend and colleague, the late Dr. Perry Hoffman), and coordinated and taught an annual Foundations of Dialectical Behavior Therapy seminar within Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital since 2005.

Seth has an enormous and close network of clinicians whose careers have been powerfully impacted by his teaching, mentorship, friendship, and work. Seth has received the Distinguished Faculty Award in Recognition for Outstanding Contributions as a Teacher within the Psychology Section of Yale University School of Medicine and the Cindy Sanderson Educator Award from the International Society for the Improvement and Teaching of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. The convenors of the latter indicated during the announcement of this prestigious award that the volume of submissions and tributes from current and former students, and colleagues supporting his nomination was unprecedented and overwhelming.

Seth will be remembered for his determined spirit, compassionate understanding of complex human behavior, mentorship, and for the enormous ways he has enhanced the lives of others. He is survived by his wife, Rebecca, and their children, Emma and Levi.

Funeral services will be held on Thursday, January 27, 2022, at 11:00 am at Adath Israel, 8 Broad St., Middletown.
Anyone who has been vaccinated and boosted, has no symptoms, and is willing to wear a mask is invited to attend in person. To watch the service on Zoom please click here. The passcode is 181538.

This announcement was jointly prepared by Drs. Katherine Klingensmith, Emily Cooney, and Dwain Fehon with assistance from Drs. Ashley Pierson, Rajita Sinha, and Frank Fortunati.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on January 26, 2022