Susan Barrett oral history interview, 2015-03-20

Karuna Counseling Oral History Project
Susan Barrett oral history interview, 2015-03-20
Barrett, Susan
Contributor to Resource:
Schroeder, Ilene
Date of Original:
Women psychotherapists
Feminist therapy--Philosophy
Lesbians--United States
Gay adoption--Law and legislation
Lesbian mothers--Family relationships
United States, Georgia, Fulton County, Atlanta, 33.749, -84.38798
United States, Georgia, Fulton County, 33.79025, -84.46702
United States, Georgia, DeKalb County, Decatur, 33.7748275, -84.2963123
United States, Georgia, DeKalb County, 33.77153, -84.22641
oral histories (literary works)
In this interview, Susan Barrett gives an overview of her family, education, and work life. She discusses the process through which she decided to become a therapist, and her experiences co-founding Karuna Counseling. She also talks about coming out as a lesbian, adopting children with her partner, and her desire to be part of a strong lesbian community. Throughout the interview, Barrett discusses the conflict she has frequently experienced between being perceived as "mainstream" while belonging to a minority.
Established in 1974, the original mission of Karuna Counseling was to provide high quality, compassionate care for women. Over the years the practice has grown, developed and expanded its focus, and it now provides holistic psychotherapy services to men, women, adolescents, families, couples, businesses, and organizations in the Atlanta, Ga. area. The Karuna Counseling Oral History Project aims to document the history of the counseling practice through peer interviews with its therapists.
Susan Barrett was born in Western Massachusetts and grew up in New England and the Midwest. During her adolescence, she experienced prejudice as a member of one of the only three Catholic families in her small town in Ohio. Barrett describes herself as a rebellious teenager who skipped school, drank and smoked, and made friends with people her parents disapproved of. Barrett settled down after high school, attending college in La Crosse, Wis., and then at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She became a physical therapist and worked at a VA hospital in Milwaukee, then briefly lived in California before enrolling in graduate school for physical therapy at Boston University. While in Boston, Barrett became interested in psychology, and she came out as a lesbian. Barrett eventually moved to Atlanta with her partner, where she began teaching at Emory University. She and her partner eventually, with several other women, co-founded Karuna Counseling in 1974. She remained at Karuna for six years. When Barrett was in her 40s, she and her then-partner adopted two Peruvian-born children, and they became the first family in Georgia to be granted a second-parent adoption. Barrett has continued to practice as a therapist since leaving Karuna.
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Bibliographic Citation (Cite As):
Barrett, Susan, interviewed by Ilene Schroeder, March 20, 2015, Karuna Counseling Oral History Project, Archives for Research on Women and Gender. Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University.
Holding Institution:
Georgia State University. Special Collections