Dr. Joseph E. Dellen, 56, a psychologist and former official of the University College of the University of Maryland who served in Europe and Asia, died of cancer Sunday at his home in Silver Spring.

Dr. Dellen was born in Weatherly, Pa. He was a lieutenant in the Army during World War II and served in the Pacific. After the war, he earned a bachelor's degree at Kutztown State College in Pennsylvania and master's and doctoral degrees in psychology at Columbia University in New York.

In 1952, he joined the University College of the University of Maryland, which conducts continuing education programs in a number of countries. He taught in Britain and elsewhere in Europe until 1956, when he became assistant director of the program in Britain.

In 1961, he was named associate director for the Far East Division and three years later became its director. In 1969, he returned to this country as the assistant dean for overseas affairs in College Park.

In 1973, Dr. Dellen resigned from the University of Maryland and joined the Brookings Institution. In 1975, he etablished a private practice in psychology with offices in Chevy Chase and Cheverly. He also taught psychology at Maryland. He retired at the beginning of this year for reasons of health.

Dr. Dellen, who lived in Silver Spring, was a member of the American Psychological Association and the American Futurist Society.

Survivors include his wife, Doris, of Silver Spring; two sons, David and Christopher, both of Silver Spring; four daughters, Patricia of Silver Spring, Debra of South Boston, Va., Karen Silverman of Gaithersburg, and Pamela Massagee of Kensington, and a brother, John, and a sister, Rosella Garbacik, both of Weatherly.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society, to the Brain Research Center, Children's Hospital National Medical Center, Washington, D.C., or to the Linus Pauling Research Institute, Stanford, Calif.