Mary Dolby McDonald, LCSW

( she/her/hers )



Northern Virginia

Ages Treated

Older Teens & Adults

Practice Philosophy:

Mary Dolby McDonald is an experienced social worker who works with older teens, adults, and parents to help individuals overcome challenges and become their best selves. Straightforward, yet kind and compassionate, Mary offers a trusting environment where patients gain perspective and self-awareness. Her approach focuses on strengths and values, rather than problems, and she provides the scaffolding to help clients build strategies to achieve their “life worth living” goals. She believes that her job is to find out what’s really important to each person, and to develop a unique plan to help them get where they want to go. She understands that people have been hurting a long time before they come to therapy, so she capitalizes on the motivation to change and provides skill building techniques and resources to get you moving forward quickly. Patients appreciate her support as they learn to tolerate their feelings more effectively, and develop a new sense of hope as they make positive changes in their lives.

Areas of Expertise:

Mary works with patients experiencing depression, anxiety, trauma, PTSD, difficulties in regulating emotions, and life transition issues. She draws from evidence-based treatments including Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), psychoanalytic theory, and mindfulness to help clients achieve change. She relates well to older teens and young adults, and has a passion for working with adults who are facing transitions in stages of life, including retirement, empty nesting, and managing adult children and elderly parents. She has worked for many years with parents whose children suffer from acute and chronic mental health concerns, including personality disorders, intellectual disorders, ASD, down syndrome, and neurological and genetic disabilities. She offers guidance, pragmatic practicalities, and support to families in managing difficult situations. She is also intensively trained to address PTSD and trauma with prolonged exposure, an evidence-based treatment approach.

Experience and Training:

Mary has over 30 years of clinical, consultative, supervisory and administrative experience in the field of social work in a broad range of settings including private practice, hospitals and schools. She earned her master’s in social work at Boston University and trained at the Washington School of Psychiatry’s program on psychotherapy practice. She has been intensively trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and has worked with clients in all stages of DBT. She worked for close to 20 years in the Arlington Public Schools, helping children and families strengthen partnerships and alleviate barriers to learning. In addition to her clinical practice, Mary is an adjunct faculty at Catholic University’s School of Social Work where she supervises graduate students in their advanced clinical placements. She also supervises social workers seeking their clinical license. Mary is dedicated to continuous learning and finding ways to help her clients find meaning and have a life worth living.

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