Sarah Panofsky

Wet'suwet'en Nation approaches to wellness and healing trauma
Marla Buchanan
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

My goal is to be a Counselling Psychologist specializing in working with Indigenous peoples in the area of complex trauma. There are currently no Counselling Psychologists residing in Northwest BC, as well as a scarcity of culturally appropriate mental health services. It is my intent to return to the Skeena River Valley and help fill this gap. I am passionate about working to bridge Indigenous approaches to healing with Western evidence-based practice and to refine my understanding of reconciliation in the context of Indigenous healing. My PhD in Counselling Psychology is a bridge to this work.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

My PhD will be my fourth UBC degree and I am confident that the university will provide me with the comprehensiveness, relevance, and rigour that I seek in my studies. Connection to place is also important. Studying at UBC allows me to maintain relationships with the communities in Northwest BC that form the foundation of my research.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

The CNPS program highlights expertise in my field of study and the clinical training critical to my goal of becoming a registered Counselling Psychologist.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

After many years out of school I wasn't certain about how it would feel to be a student again - happily I love it.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

I lived for nine years in Northwest BC where I coordinated community development initiatives in collaboration with the Wet'suwet'en and Gitxsan Nations. Living and working in this remote-rural context where culture and connection to land are paramount helped me develop a sense of belonging and life purpose that I had not experienced previously in urban environments. It was this experience that inspired me to pursue doctoral studies in counselling psychology.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

Fun and relaxation are so important to feed my academic life. I love to adventure in the natural world and practice and teach yoga.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Having a supportive, communicative, and engaged supervisor has allowed me to excel in my graduate studies. If possible, choose a mentor who you are aligned with.


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