Olga Smoliak

Olga Smoliak
Associate Professor, CFT
Email: 
osmoliak@uoguelph.ca
Phone number: 
519-824-4120 x56336
Office: 
Macdonald Hall Annex, Room 252

Research interests: conversation analysis, discursive psychology, qualitative inquiry, postmodern approaches to therapy, gender, social justice, couple relationships, couple therapy

Area: Couple and Family Therapy 

Description of research: Dr. Smoliak (PhD, C. Psych.) is an Associate Professor in the Couple and Family Therapy area. She is a Clinical and Counselling Psychologist and Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Dr. Smoliak has taken a social constructionist approach to psychotherapy and has explored the links between discourse or language use and the therapeutic practices. She approaches mental illness and mental health encounters from an interactional, discursive perspective. In particular, she uses conversation analysis and discursive psychology to investigate how psychological matters are constituted discursively and how therapeutic and diagnostic interactions operate in practice. In so doing, she challenges the conventional diagnostic discourses of mental illness and investigates how certain versions of clients' identities or experiences are constituted through social interaction. Dr. Smoliak has studied linguistic and interactional methods used by therapy participants to give and receive advice, collaborate, accomplish specific therapeutic tasks, and negotiate responsibility for blameworthy conduct. She is currently examining how therapists request in-session practical actions from clients, and how the authority to direct clients' actions is interactionally implemented and negotiated. Dr. Smoliak has a small-scale psychotherapy practice which inspires and is informed by her research work.

Accepting graduate students:

Fall 2018: Yes

Fall 2019: Yes

Dr. Smoliak is an Associate Professor in the Couple and Family Therapy area. She is a Clinical/Counselling Psychologist and Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Her research program falls under the umbrella of critical psychology in that it focuses on critical, contextual, and participant-centered accounts of human action and experience. By studying individuals as socially and culturally situated, Dr. Smoliak complements and broadens individually-focused explanations of subjectivity, more conventional within psychology.

Her research program addresses three areas: psychotherapy practice and pedagogy, social construction of mental illness, and gender and sexualities. Within each of these areas Dr. Smoliak explores the link between subjectivity and politics, paying particular attention to issues of social justice and oppression (e.g., sexism, classism, racism). To this end, she applies critical ideas (e.g., discursive psychology, social constructionism, postmodernism, feminism) and qualitative research methods (e.g., discourse analysis, grounded theory, narrative analysis, phenomenology).

PhD (Counseling Psychology) - University of Calgary, 2008

Masters (Counseling Psychology) - Trinity Western University, 2002