Olga Smoliak

Associate Professor, FRHD
Department of Family Relations & Applied Nutrition
Phone number: 
519-824-4120 x56336
Macdonald Stewart Hall, Room 228


Research interests:

Social justice in therapy and counselling

Postmodern, systemic, and experiential therapies

Couple relationships and therapy

Gender and intersectionality

Feminist and poststructural perspectives

Qualitative inquiry

Discourse and conversation analysis

Critical perspectives on mental health

Therapy process research


Area: Family Relation and Applied Nutrition

Description of research: I am an Associate Professor in FRHD. I am also a clinical/counselling psychologist. I conduct research within the framework of critical psychology, notably discursive and feminist psychology. I mainly study psychotherapy process with an emphasis on the discursive analysis of client-therapist interaction, therapeutic relationship, and therapeutic change. I have published and presented in the areas of interaction in couple therapy, gender and power, postmodern therapies, therapist authority and collaboration, the DSM and medicalization of distress, and qualitative methods of inquiry in psychology and psychotherapy. I have a small-scale psychotherapy practice which inspires and is informed by my research.

Accepting graduate students (I accept students in FRHD and SOPR)

Fall 2024: Yes

Selected publications:

Smoliak, O., Dechamplain, B., Elliott, R., Rice, C., LeCouteur, A., Tseliou, E., & Davies, A. (2023). Partner empathy in couple therapy: A discovery-phase task analytic study. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice. https://doi.org/10.1037/cfp0000244

Smoliak, O., *Al-Ali, K., LeCouteur, A., Tseliou, E., Rice, C., LaMarre, A., Davies, A., *Uguccioni, B., *Stirling, L., *Dechamplain, B., & *Henshaw, S. (2023). The third shift: Addressing emotion work in couple therapy. Family Process. https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12906

Elliott, R., Bohart, A., Larson, D., Muntigl, P., & Smoliak, O. (2023). Empathic reflection. In C. Hill & J. Norcross (Eds.), Psychotherapy skills and methods that work. Oxford University Press.

Lester, J., O’Reilly, M., Smoliak, O., Muntigl, P., & Tseliou, E. (2023). Soliciting children’s views on circular questioning in child mental health assessments. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 28(2), 554-566.

Smoliak, O., LaMarre, A., Rice, C., Tseliou, E., LeCouteur, A., *Myers, M., *Vesely, L., *Briscoe, C., *Addison, M., & *Velikonja, L. (2022). The politics of vulnerable masculinity in couple therapy. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy48(2), 427-446.

Smoliak, O., Rice, C., LaMarre, A., Tseliou, E., LeCouteur, A., & Davies, A. (2022). Gendering of care and care inequalities in couple therapy. Family Process, 61(4), 1386-1402.

Smoliak, O., Rice, C., Knudson-Martin, C., *Briscoe, C., LeCouteur, A., LaMarre, A., Tseliou, E., *Velikonja, L., *Myers, M., *Addison, M., & *Vesely, L. (2022). Denials of responsibility in couple therapy. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 21(4), 344-365.

Smoliak, O., MacMartin, C., Hepburn, A., Le Couteur, A., Elliott, R., & *Quinn‐Nilas, C. (2022). Authority in therapeutic interaction: A conversation analytic study. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy48(4), 961-981.

Smoliak, O., Couture, S., Gaete Silva, J., Rogers-de Jong, M., Sametband, I., & LaMarre, A. (2021). Exploring the practical potential of discursive research in family therapy. In M. O'Reilly & J. Lester (Eds.), Improving communication in mental health settings: Evidence-based recommendations from practitioner-led research (pp. 36-53). New York: Routledge.

LaMarre, A., Smoliak, O., Cool, C., Kinavey, H., & Hardt, L. (2019). The normal, improving, and productive self: Unpacking neoliberal governmentality in therapeutic interactions. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 32(3), 236-253. 

Smoliak, O., & Strong, T. (Ed.). (2018). Therapy as discourse: Research and practice. London: Palgrave/MacMillan.

Gaete, J., Smoliak, O., Couture, S., & Strong, T. (2018). DSM diagnosis and social justice: Inviting counsellor reflexivity. In C. Audet & D. Paré (Eds.), Social justice and counseling: Discourse in practice. New York: Routledge. 

Sutherland (Smoliak), O., LaMarre, A., Rice, C., Hardt, L., & LeCouteur, A. (2017). New sexism in couple therapy: A discursive analysis. Family Process, 56(3), 686–700.

Sutherland (Smoliak), O., LaMarre, A., Rice, C., Hardt, L., & Jeffrey, N. (2016). Gendered patterns of interaction: A Foucauldian discourse analysis of couple therapy. Contemporary Family Therapy, 38(4), 385-399.

Sutherland (Smoliak), O., Peräkylä, A., & Elliott, R. (2014). Conversation analysis of the two-chair self-soothing task. Psychotherapy Research, 24(6), 738-751. 

Sutherland (Smoliak), O., & Strong, T. (2011). Therapeutic collaboration: A conversation analysis of constructionist therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 33, 256-278.

Sutherland (Smoliak), O. (2007). Therapist positioning and power in discursive therapies: A comparative analysis. Contemporary Family Therapy, 29, 193-209. 

PhD (Counseling Psychology) - University of Calgary, 2008


Area of Research

Family Relations and Human Development