From Moscow to the mesas of Arizona, there are few things Ottawa University graduate Marilyn Murray ’83 AZ hasn’t experienced. Businesswoman, art gallery owner, student, teacher, counselor, columnist, author, she’s done much in her 76 years, and the word retirement is not in her lexicon.
Murray thrived in many careers before she landed as a 44-yearold student at the Ottawa University-Arizona campus in 1981. With her husband, she owned a Western store where they raised two small children (at times in the back of the shop). She opened the first major art gallery in Scottsdale in 1968. In the 70s, she and a female friend started a small support group for abused women.
Murray’s troubled past would prove to be the catharsis for her own healing in adulthood, and it would also bring her to Ottawa University. She would turn personal trauma into a treatment initiative, the Murray Method, and also a graduate program – both helping countless numbers of victims improve their lives.
In the early 80s, through the encouragement of a therapist, Murray dealt with the sexual abuse in her childhood. During her treatment, it was clear she regretted not finishing college, so she investigated adult education programs in the Phoenix area.
“I searched in the Yellow Pages and found Ottawa University,” says Murray. “The campus was located in a small office building. Most things in life don’t surprise me, but I came away from OU absolutely shocked. Provost Fred Zook and the people at the university were wonderful. This was exactly what I wanted, and I fell wildly in love with Ottawa.”
Finishing her bachelor’s and starting her master’s at Ottawa University, she credits OU for a good deal of her professional success. “Writing papers and giving presentations suited my personality of being a theoretician at heart,” says Murray. “I saw lots of patterns in my own therapeutic process. I developed a theoretical model on how a child survives trauma, but I presumed this technique would only help and inspire me.”
However, her professor, Dr. George Larsen, disagreed. Struggling with how to aid a trauma-stricken client, he asked Murray to help. After she successfully treated the troubled patient, Dr. Larsen was convinced her methods could benefit others.
As a sophomore, Murray began training PhDs in her theoretical process. Asked by a Scottsdale psychologist to design an indepth training program, she created a treatment model, which would become the internationally known Murray Method.
Though Murray left OU and began her own private practice, Ottawa University never travelled far from her life. When her first book, “Prisoner of Another War: A Remarkable Journey of Healing from Childhood Trauma,” was published in 1991, OU-Arizona sponsored its release. Because of her efforts, she received the Distinguished Service Award in 1991.
Six years later, Murray continued to treat patients through her private practice, but OU emerged in her life again when Dr. Ron Frost and Dr. Zook asked if she would teach her methods at OU-Arizona. She agreed and designed the Trauma, Abuse and Deprivation master’s level program at the Arizona campus.
The program teaches students to help survivors of sexual abuse, physical abuse or childhood neglect; survivors of domestic violence; survivors of accidents, life threatening health crises, crime and violence; the family members of survivors; survivors of natural disasters; and combat veterans or first responders.
Murray taught at the Arizona campus for seven years. The master’s program she developed has proven to be one of OUArizona’s most popular and will soon be offered online.
Because of her teaching, Murray stays in touch with a number of her former students. “When I taught, the class was very popular, and I’m so thrilled to know it’s still a successful program,” says Murray. Her trauma treatment program was the first of its kind and now is taught at most universities.
Murray has had the pleasure of giving back to Ottawa not only as a teacher, but as a speaker, and has addressed The College several times.
In 2002, she started a new segment of her life as she began teaching in Russia. Her family’s Russian roots helped her in this transition, but her ties with Ottawa University also proved key. Because of her work at OU, International University asked Marilyn to teach her level one program to students from more than 30 countries.
In Russia, Murray has served as a professor for Moscow’s Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. She has taught her trauma method to clergy, graduate students, instructors, and school psychologists. Some of Murray’s students have founded The Murray Method International Center in Moscow.
This year, Murray will spend fewer months in Russia and more time in Arizona with her family, including her sister, daughters, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She sees clients in Scottsdale and is receiving requests to do training again.
With a full life, Murray doesn’t have time to visit the Arizona campus often, but she keeps up with university events as much as she can. Her ties with OU remain strong, including her friendship with Fred Zook – whom she met her first day on campus more than thirty years ago when she launched into a remarkable journey of healing and teaching that continues today.
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