Marianne Farkas’ office is a colorful repository of memories of all the places she has traveled to during her 40-year career as a mental health professional. The director of training, dissemination, and technical assistance for BU’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Farkas estimates she has been to between 40 and 50 countries. She speaks five languages fluently: Hungarian, her first language, English, French, Italian, and German.
She often receives a small gift as a thank you when invited to speak somewhere or when someone comes to visit from abroad. Her second-floor office overlooking Comm Ave is filled with artwork, pottery, tapestries, mugs, books, photographs, and more.
Farkas was part of the team that founded the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, a research and training center, in 1979. Their mandate was to develop new knowledge about serious mental illnesses and to work with those affected. “Over the years, we’ve developed different methodologies, techniques, and interventions, and so when I give talks, it’s about that,” she says.
Also a Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences clinical professor of occupational therapy, Farkas is president-elect of the World Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, the first nonpsychiatrist to be elected president. She says she views the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation as a bridge from science to practice, but also from practice to science. She often returns from her travels intrigued and inspired by something she observes professionals practicing halfway around the world.
“We at the center have worked over the last 40 years to develop a network that includes people with lived experience. We have broadened that understanding of who should be involved and who should be at the table when developing something new or when you’re assessing how useful something is,” Farkas says. “I like bringing back those ideas and making it part of the conversation. It is a little piece of what helps the overall tide to turn in a different way.”
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