What Do You Get When You Cross Dr. Phil With Judge Judy? A Therapist Lawyer Who Tells You How to Get Past Your Past

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Once abused and abandoned, she rose up from the ashes and now teaches others to do the same.

How to Get Past Your Past is a new and different New York City enterprise even though its founder, Susan Elliott, is compared to other popular speakers and personalities. On a seminar evaluation form, one student wrote that she was a “shoot-straight-from-the-hip” cross between Dr. Phil and Judge Judy because she is a trained therapist and a licensed attorney who often gives pithy advice on matters of both love and law.

But the comparisons end there. Elliott is a different teacher because she has been in difficult places and shares that story. “When I heard her heartbreaking story,” one student says, “I felt if she could do it, I can do it. Not only does she give you the tools and techniques to change your life but she gives herself as an example.”

For someone who now seems to be in demand everywhere, she once felt as if she didn't belong anywhere. As a child, her birth mother and half brothers were in Manhattan and she lived as a foster kid up in the Bronx. She felt deeply wounded by feelings of rejection. “Being a foster kid is like having a sign around your neck that says no one loves you enough to keep you and no one wants to adopt you.”

She was adopted when she was 8, but two years later her parents’ marriage fell apart leaving her adrift once again. She started looking for distraction in dangerous situations and abusive men. “I was all about the drama.” She says, “The crazier it was on the outside, the less I had to pay attention to my hurt and my anger on the inside.”

Elliott had children at a young age to feel connected to someone, but she didn’t know how to be a mother. Three children later, she felt as if there was no way out. She also felt guilty that she had brought innocent children into the mess. She says, “I felt incredibly guilty, inept, stupid, confused and worthless."

Then one day Elliott realized she spent too much time waiting for a man to save the day. “I had this epiphany that no one was going to save me but me and if I wanted things to be different, I had to make it different.” She threw herself into finding people to talk to, books to read, support groups to attend, and courses to take. She moved away from everyone and raised her children, learning how to be a good parent to happy and healthy kids.

She became an insatiable student, pouring over books at night when the kids were in bed and dreaming of going back to school to get a college degree. She eventually received a BA from Mount Holyoke College; an M.Ed. from Cambridge College; and, a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

She now has a happy marriage, a great career, and wonderful relationships with her children who credit her with breaking the cycle of abuse in their family. When her youngest son was 18 he sent her a card that said on the outside, “I know a woman of incredible strength and beauty. I have been watching her for years.” Inside it says, “She is my mother.” Elliott keeps it on display at all times. “When I got that card,” she said, “I knew I had done the right things and every grueling minute of pulling my life together and raising those kids had been worth it.”

Over the years people have implored her to share her remarkable story, to talk about it, teach about it and write about it. Last year she began How To Get Past Your Past and started teaching teaching classes and workshops in New York and Boston and is a guest lecturer and motivational speaker in many different venues. She publishes a newsletter once a month and is working on a book, “How to Get Past Your Past: The Seven Things You Need To Do To Be Happy Now.” She is also working on bring her workshops, seminars and lectures to CDs, DVDs and television.    

Although she is an incredibly busy attorney, she works with others to give back for what was given to her. “It would be so much easier just to just come home and watch TV after 12 hours at the office, but I answer emails, develop my courses, work on my newsletter and my books. It’s exhausting, but the life I live now is so good, and I believe that to keep it to myself would be shameful. My seminars are my way of letting others know there is hope, and there is a way out of any difficult situation.”

How To Get Past Your Past will soon be taking registrations for the fall offerings but is always available for speaking engagements.

For more information contact: Susan J. Elliott




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