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The Story of My Therapeutic Approach

During my first years at Acoria, a private out-patient eating disorder clinic, I began to see that my personal interest in the social and cultural influence on individual’s lives and psychology could be applied more practically to conversations with the people who sought my help. This prompted me to explore the work of feminist psychologists and psychotherapists like Carol Gilligan, Deborah L. Tolman, and Jean Baker Miller and her colleagues at the Stone Center at Wellesley Centers for Women where Relational Therapy was conceived. It was also during this time that ideas of how identity is shaped in relationship began to impact my practice. Driving my learning has been a desire to do socially relevant work and to understand how I, and the people I work with, can resist social and cultural standards that don’t fit with who we want to become and have agency in our own lives in ways that reflect our personal values.

The therapeutic framework which grounds my practice has evolved out of many years of academic and professional training in different therapies, including humanistic, psychodynamic, relational, family systems, and close to two decades of lessons learned in practice. One of the strongest threads that connects my work is a non-pathologizing orientation – in other words, the meaning people make of their experience guides my work, not standard diagnoses. The ideas and values that have resonated and “stuck” have led me to find my theoretical and practical home within a post-structuralist framework. This approach acknowledges the complexity and social construction of knowledge.

The ideas of Michael White and David Epston have profoundly influenced my work. I have been inspired by the teaching and writing of Jill Freedman and Gene Combs from the Evanston Family Therapy Center, where they advance the direction and practice of Narrative Therapy. Narrative Therapy uses people’s stories as an entry to redefining problems, discovering new possibilities and making meaning.

Suzanne Dron Gazzolo PhD, LCPC
(847) 280-0564

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