Susan J. Elliott FP’00: How to Get Past Your Past

Susan Elliott’s been through a lot— growing up in foster care, an abusive first marriage, and a terrible divorce—and at one point was suicidal as a result. It took her ten years of hard work to regain health and happiness, but she did it. So she speaks from experience when she tells others how to get past their past.

While maintaining her law practice, Susan also uses her master’s in counseling psychology and training as a grief counselor to help clients struggling with issues such as divorce and domestic violence.

In 2006, people in seminars Susan ran wanted to stay in touch, so she started a blog for them. Within weeks, that handful of students turned into 1,000 readers. Her audience grew again after the 2009 publication of her book Getting Past Your Breakup. Today she gets between 5,000 and 10,000 visitors to each day.

Susan’s program for moving on after trauma is derived from her own research. “Before I became a therapist, I went through ten years of being in therapy myself, finding answers. I also did academic research and put together the best of the best from various schools of psychological thought,” she says. “I put together everything that worked for me so others don’t have to go through a decade of researching what works.”

Susan’s work aids her clients, but it also helps her, she says. “Since the death of my [“soul mate” second] husband, when I ask myself ‘What’s life all about?’ the answer for me is helping other people, continuing to tell them, ‘You can do this. There is hope, life, and laughter. You can fall in love again. You can make a nice life for yourself.’ I get feedback every day on the blog from people writing, ‘I don’t know what I’d have done without you.’ That keeps me feeling that there’s a purpose to everything I’ve gone through.”

—By Emily Harrison Weir 

This article appeared in the winter 2012 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.

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