Eleanor Smith oral history interview, 2016-05-13

Karuna Counseling Oral History Project
Eleanor Smith oral history interview, 2016-05-13
Smith, Eleanor, 1943-
Contributor to Resource:
Schroeder, Ilene
Date of Original:
People with disabilities--United States
Discrimination against people with disabilities--United States
Women psychotherapists--United States--Georgia
Women political activists--United States
Koinonia Farm
United States, California, San Francisco County, San Francisco, 37.7790262, -122.4199061
United States, Georgia, Fulton County, Atlanta, 33.749, -84.38798
United States, Georgia, Fulton County, 33.79025, -84.46702
United States, Illinois, 40.6331249, -89.3985283
oral histories (literary works)
In this interview, Eleanor Smith begins by talking about growing up in central Illinois. She discusses her experience of being disabled as a child after contracting polio at age three. Smith talks about the process of accepting her lesbian sexuality, beginning with a relationship in college. She also discusses how she became interested in psychology, which led her to become a therapist at Karuna Counseling. Smith talks about her experiences working at Karuna and how the open, collaborative atmosphere fit with her lifelong desire to be part of intentional communities and communal-type living and working situations. Smith discusses her disability-rights activism, which she has engaged in for much of her life and for which she has been arrested multiple times. Smith also briefly discusses her work teaching English as a second language at DeKalb Community College and her position against physician-assisted suicide.
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.
Eleanor Smith was born in central Illinois, the fourth child in a Mennonite family with five children. Smith contracted polio at the age of three and spent a year in the hospital, initially completely paralyzed. She eventually regained the use of her arms but continues to use a wheelchair. Smith later became involved in disability-rights activism. During a long-term stay on Koinonia Farm, a Christian, social-justice oriented intentional community in Americus, Ga., Smith began reading about radical psychiatry and developed an interest in the practice of psychotherapy. She moved to Atlanta, then briefly left Atlanta for San Francisco, where she trained in radical psychiatry before returning to Atlanta and becoming involved with Karuna Counseling, first as a client and later as a therapist, a position she held for four years. After leaving Karuna, Smith taught English as a Second Language at a community college before retiring.
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Copyright to this item is owned by Georgia State University Library. Georgia State University Library has made this item available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. For more information, see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Bibliographic Citation (Cite As):
Smith, Eleanor, interviewed by Ilene Schroeder, May 13, 2016, 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