Ishu Ishiyama

Associate Professor

Relevant Degree Programs

 

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
"Are you a robot?" A discourse analysis of rapport-building in online crisis chats from a suicide prevention centre (2017)

Despite an increase in the use of online crisis counselling services, little research has been conducted on how the therapeutic relationship is negotiated online. The prevalence of suicide in Canada as well the established importance of the therapeutic relationship when working with suicidal individuals led to the development of this study. The current study consisted of a discourse analysis of client-counsellor interactions in online crisis chats with individuals who reported thoughts of suicide. Data sources consisted of 24 transcripts obtained from two online crisis services: one for youth, one for adults. Of these, 16 were considered rapport-containing; eight were considered non-rapport-containing. Chats were separated into three phases: Initial Contact, Suicide Assessment, and Termination. Content analysis followed by discourse analysis found that, in the first two phases of the rapport-containing chats, the client tended to express a dialectic of wanting help and simultaneously feeling hopeless and of a person with a story to tell, and the counsellor positioned themselves as an empathic witness to the client’s narrative. The client-counsellor relationship in Phase 1 was characterized by themes of informality and equality/mutual respect. Main relational themes in the Suicide Assessment phase were client/counsellor collaboration and counsellor authenticity. In the Termination phase, main relational themes included shared humour, counsellor self-disclosure, and client trust. In the non-rapport-containing chats, in the Initial Contact phase, the client positioned themselves as a consumer of services and the counsellor positioned themselves as a service provider. The client-counsellor relationship in this phase was characterized by client frustration and counsellor helplessness with respect to the client’s unmet needs for counsellor directiveness, authenticity, and self-disclosure. In the Suicide Assessment phase, three main relational themes were found: client-perceived circularity of the conversation, feeling misunderstood, and feeling unheard. In the Termination phase, chats were frequently ended abruptly by the client, and the predominant theme was one of client rejection of the counsellor. Across all chats, client-perceived mattering (or lack thereof) was an observed theme. The results have important clinical implications for those working with suicidal individuals online.

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Returning to our medicines : decolonizing and indigenizing mental health services to better serve Indigenous communities in urban spaces (2016)

While mental health services continue to make efforts toward greater cultural sensitivity, research, education, and practice in these fields remain grounded primarily in Western Eurosettler principles that have been applied in colonization. Addressing the dearth of culturally relevant and appropriate research in Indigenous mental health, the current project applied isîhcikêwin – the author’s Indigenist nehiyaw-otipemisiwak (Cree/Métis) research paradigm to address the question: How can mental health services (be shaped so as to) better serve Indigenous peoples living in urban spaces? isîhcikêwin is based in the author’s lived experiences as a mobile nehiyaw-otipemisiwak woman who is an oskâpêwis (helper) and participant in traditional ceremonies. This framework draws on Wilson’s (2008) conceptualization of research as ceremony alongside the work of other Indigenous scholars (e.g., Archibald, 2008; Castellano, 2000; Graveline, 2000; Holmes, 2000; Kovach, 2009; Marsden, 2005; Smith, 1999). Following isîhcikêwin ethics and protocols, the author had conversations with sixteen Indigenous mental health professionals and hosted a talking circle. The author used Indigenous holistic meaning making in coming to understand iyinisiwak (knowledge holders’) perspectives, weaving together the stories of iyinisiwak, her interpretive synthesis of their knowledges, and her own personal narratives. The findings comprise a decolonizing framework that is presented as a braid of sweetgrass consisting of three strands: (a) what isn’t working in mental health service provision, (b) restor(y)ing approaches to wellness as ways forward in Indigenous health service provision, and (c) how services can make these transformations. Findings address how approaches to Indigenous wellness in urban spaces may be transformed through the adaptation and application of a medicine bundle framework that incorporates community-based perspectives on love, good relationships, Indigenous knowledges, living a good life, responsibility, identity and belonging, and land. These findings include critical implications for researchers, educators, theorists, practitioners, policy-makers, and other stakeholders whose work involves an aim to contribute to healing and wellness with Indigenous communities.Consistent with isîhcikêwin, the current dissertation alternates between a scripted dialogue and a conversational style with the reader. This form of representation honours the voices of the author and iyinisiwak, and contributes to research that is congruent with isîhcikêwin from conception to completion.

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Development and field testing of action-based psychosocial reconciliation approach in post-genocide Rwanda (2014)

The 1994 Rwandan genocide and subsequent 2003 government release of genocide prisoners (perpetrators) created a situation where returning prisoners now live side-by- side with survivors in rural villages of Rwanda. While political and economical efforts have been made to facilitate unity and reconciliation, interpersonal reconciliation support is critically scarce in present-day Rwanda. The purpose of this research is to develop and conduct field-testing of a new action-based psychosocial reconciliation approach (ABPRA). The ABPRA is conceptually and empirically founded on Japanese Morita therapy and contact theory. The ABPRA is a practical synthesis of Moritian therapeutic principles and contact conditions empirically supported to facilitate positive attitude change aimed at fostering an interpersonal reconciliation process between the survivors and ex-prisoners. Four reconciliation dyads consisting of survivors and ex-prisoners of the 1994 Rwandan genocide living in the same village were recruited on voluntary bases to participate in two weekly hours of the ABPRA session. This lasted for eight weeks over two months in two remote villages in Rwanda. A post-session, semi-structured interview method was combined with the interpersonal process recall method to explore participant experiences. Thematic content analysis (Krippendorff, 2014) of data revealed five beneficial properties of the ABPRA: (a) healing, (b) attitude change, (c) reconciliation, (d) relationship building, and (e) psychosocial development. Despite its limitations, current evidence not only supported two theoretical foundations of the ABPRA but also generated descriptive information to enhance them. Implications and applications to counselling psychology, ecology and medium of healing and change, conflict mediation and resolution, war prevention, and peace building will be discussed.

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Stories of change in men who were violent and abusive to their partners : a collaborative narrative inquiry (2014)

Utilizing collaborative narrative inquiry, this study examines the process of change in men who were violent and abusive to their partners and children. The aim of this study is to explore violent offenders' meanings and experience in desisting from violence. The study attempts to deconstruct preconceptions of "change" from a dimensional ontological perspective to explore various dimensions of the experience of change. The results capture a concept of change in the individually unique form of stories in context that contain a series of transition and transformation processes in the lives of the men. The results are full of meaning and tell stories of their journeys that explain how violence and abuse intruded upon their lives, how they became oppressors themselves, how they struggled with hurting their families, and how they redeemed themselves from darkness. The meaning was coconstructed with stories of female victims of intimate violence and abuse at home and brings about a new meaning in desisting from violence and abuse, taking responsibility, and making amends. The reformed offenders’ change processes should not be considered limited only to confrontation and reinforcement but should also require engagement in a reflective process and internal transformation of an existential nature. More importantly, a meaning of change should be coconstructed with victims of intimate violence and abuse.

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Making Canadian culture visible: acculturation as a co-construction of culture (2012)

This dissertation research explored the acculturation phenomenon while considering the reciprocal, interminable, polycontextual, multivoiced and multiscripted nature of this complex process, and the impact that residence in a culture contact zone has upon this culture change process. In exploring the visual and written texts captured by persons living within the culture contact zone of the Vancouver Lower Mainland through a collaborative visual ethnographic approach, the process of acculturation was explored as a co-construction of culture as participants’ collaboratively defined Canadian culture. The Vancouver Lower Mainland’s cultural plurality provided a promising culture contact zone in which to examine the complexities of an acculturation process for all acculturating members, both newcomers to the culture contact zone and old-timers of the culture contact zone (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Rudmin, 2003), and to interrogate the complexities that these intensified intercultural contacts present. While critiquing the fourfold approach of assimilation, integration, separation and marginalization, this dissertation drew on a sociocultural theoretical framework in conceptualizing culture contact zones as third space, and the acculturation process as a co-construction of culture within this third space. Third spaces can be disharmonious and hybrid spaces and it is proposed, in this third space, that cultural practices are contested, created and shared — co-constructed by its members. Participants’ captured images, artist statements and interview texts were analyzed (1) thematically; in identifying, analyzing and reporting patterns observed within the data pertaining to participant conceptualizations of Canadian culture and, (2) interpretatively; where data were further analyzed employing Bakhtinian text mapping (Tobin, 2000), a strategy developed to glean a text’s potential deeper and/or multiple meanings in exploring the polycontextuality, multivocality and multiscriptedness inherent in a co-constructed acculturation process. Findings suggested that for the participants in this study, both newcomers and old-timers, the culture contact zone of the Vancouver Lower Mainland presented itself as third space as its diverse cultural members were confronted with alternating and competing cultural discourses and positionings within the intercultural contact situations that they were presented with; situations that created new cultural tensions that must be negotiated and managed at some level. Implications to Canada’s multiculturalism policy are discussed.

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In and out of Aboriginal gang life : perspectives of Aboriginal ex-gang members (2009)

This research project generated a categorical scheme to describe the facilitation of gang entry and exit for Aboriginal ex-gang members using the Critical Incident Technique (Flanagan, 1954; Woolsey, 1986) as a method of qualitative data analysis. Former gang members responded to the questions: (a) What facilitated gang entry for you? (b) What facilitated gang exit for you? Participants provided 103 and 136 critical incidents which were categorized into two separate category schemes each containing 13 different categories. The 13 categories for gang entry were; engaging in physical violence, proving one’s worth, hanging around delinquent activity, family involved in gangs and following a family pattern; going to prison, gang becoming family and support system, looking up to gang members and admiring gang lifestyle, becoming dependant on gang, experiencing unsafe or unsupportive parenting practices, gaining respect by rank increase, reacting to authority, caught in a cycle of fear, and partying. The 13 categories for gang exit were; working in the legal workforce, accepting support from family or girlfriend, helping others stay out of or move away from gang life, not wanting to go back to jail, accepting responsibility for family, accepting guidance and protection, participating in ceremony, avoiding alcohol, publically expressing that you are out of the gang, wanting legitimate relationships outside gang life, experiencing a native brotherhood, stopping self from reacting like a gangster, and acknowledging the drawbacks of gang violence. Diverse methods of checking trustworthiness and credibility were applied to these category schemes, and it was found that both category schemes can be used confidently.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
An investigation of how chronic pain has affected individuals' personally significant activities (2018)

The emergence of chronic pain is often a disruptive event across multiple dimensions ofindividuals’ lives. Several models have been suggested in efforts to identify mediating factorsbetween pain and disability, as well as helpful psychological interventions. Much of this recentresearch has examined the efficacy of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).The current study used inductive thematic analysis to examine participant narratives ofthe effects of chronic pain on the personally significant activities of individuals living withchronic pain. Eight participants (5 female, 3 male) were interviewed using a combination ofautobiographical lifelines and qualitative narrative interviews.Results of the analysis showed two main themes: Activity Loss and Interruption, andActivity Gain and Maintenance. There were 18 sub-themes gathered under Activity Loss andInterruption, and 17 sub-themes gathered under Activity Gain and Maintenance. These themesexhibited that participants experienced the effects of chronic pain across somatic, psychological,interpersonal, behavioural, and environmental domains. In turn, these effects either contributeddirectly or indirectly to the loss or interruption of their personally significant activities, or theparticipants expressed adaptive responses or facilitating environmental factors that helped themgain activities or maintain their current activity levels.The findings of this study subsumed the constructs of Psychological Flexibility (PF) andPsychological Inflexibility, pain catastrophizing, and self-efficacy, all of which were present inthe lives of the participants in the context of living with chronic pain and experiencing its effectson their personally significant activities. Additionally, the findings showed how participantswere able to engage behaviourally with activities even while expressing statements reflective ofivPsychological Inflexibility. Finally, the findings also highlighted the importance of facilitatingand inhibiting environmental factors, which are not currently accounted for in the ACT model oftreatment for chronic pain. The clinical and research implication of these findings are discussed.

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How do Yukon Indigenous people define healing from the residential school experience? (2017)

This study used a storytelling method within the paradigm of an Indigenous methodology. In Canada, qualitative evidence has revealed that the Indigenous people have been affected by colonization and the residential school experience. These effects include but are not limited to trauma, intergenerational trauma, cultural interruption, genocide, segregation, racism, prejudices, and forced assimilation. For Yukon Indigenous people, first-generation survivors were directly impacted, and the next three generations are also indirectly. Efforts by Western counselling methods to support Indigenous people in Canada including those in Yukon with whom the researcher is closely associated have not been successful. This study investigated what method(s) might work to better support and sustain Indigenous people who attended Yukon residential schools. This study is the first academic investigation in the Yukon to look at first-generation survivors and record their stories about their healing journey. Nine Yukon Indigenous residential school survivors (5 females, 4 males) between the ages of 62 to 77, who had been on their healing path for a minimum of two years, shared their stories. This investigation revealed that traditional healing practices were useful for these residential school survivors in starting and sustaining their healing journey. One of the implications of the results of this study is that Western counselling methods must acknowledge, include, and work with our people in a culturally safe and competent manner. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action stipulates that Canada’s health care system must include Indigenous peoples’ right to proper health care. Clinical, practical, social, and methodological implications are discussed, and recommendations for future research as well as practical interventions are suggested.

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An investigation into the psychological help-seeking attitudes of persons with visual impairments. (2016)

The present study explored the relationships between visual impairment status, attitude towards seeking psychological services, attitude towards visual impairment, and a variety of demographic and psychological variables. A survey design was employed with persons with visual impairments (defined as having a visual acuity of 20/200 or less) residing in either Canada or the United States of America. Participants in this study were 84 legally blind (a visual acuity ranging from 20/200 to 20/600) and 109 severely visually impaired (a visual acuity of 20/600 or less) adults between 21 and 64 years of age. Measures administered in the survey included (a) the Attitude Towards Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale - Short Form, (b) the Disclosure Expectation Scale, (c) the Distress Disclosure Index, (d) the Self-Stigma of Seeking Help Scale, (e) the Stigma Scale for Receiving Psychological Help, (f) the Social Responsibility About Blindness Scale, as well as a demographic questionnaire. Descriptive statistics (means, standard deviations) and inferential statistics (two-way ANOVAs, t-tests) were calculated, as well as inter-correlations among the above variables. Results indicated that legally blind participants held more negative attitudes than did severely visually impaired participants towards disclosing distressing personal information, and toward visual impairment. A statistically significant gender effect was found on attitudes towards seeking psychological services, with female respondents reporting more positive attitudes. Results also indicated that positive attitudes towards visual impairment had significant positive correlations with attitudes towards seeking psychological services, the anticipated benefit of seeking services and comfort with disclosing distressing information, and significant negative correlations with the anticipated risk of seeking services, and both self-stigma and public stigma towards psychological services. The findings from this study will help to inform future research into counselling persons with visual impairments, and are the first steps toward establishing a knowledge base regarding this population’s attitudes towards psychological services. The current study offers valuable suggestions for exploring what would make best clinical practices with this population. The present study contributes to the lack of counselling psychology research on disability, and lends credibility to the field’s focus on diversity, having been conducted by a researcher with a visual impairment.

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An exploratory study of contributing elements in the development of attachment between foster parents and young children (2015)

This research study explored the development of attachment between foster parents and young foster children aged 2-4 years old. Using a qualitative research methodology, this exploratory study was conducted in the hope of directing future research by suggesting factors that may affect the development of attachment between foster children and their foster parents. In-depth interviews were conducted with seven foster parents (median years fostering was 16; median number of children fostered was 23). Guided by Hammersley and Atkinson's (1995) approach to thematic content analysis, the interviews were analyzed for common themes. Various characteristics of foster parents, foster children, and the environment became clear as the result of thematic content analysis. From the analysis, 47 categories, subcategories, and sub-subcategories emerged, including the following 12 main categories: (a) Nurturing, (b) Stability, (c) Awareness, (d) Adaptability, (e) Desire to help, (f) Empowering children, (g) Stress relief, (h) Support, (i) Age (of foster child), (j) Negative, hurtful past experiences(of foster child), (k) Physical health (of foster child), and (l) the Ministry of Children and Family Development's involvement. The results corroborate existing literature as well as tentatively propose new ideas that may influence attachment for foster children. All the themes appeared to converge upon the biopsychosocial well-being of young foster children. Theoretical, clinical, and methodological implications are discussed.

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Traversing the border of two cultures : understanding internalized cultures of Korean-Canadians (2015)

This research explored the ways in which Korean-Canadians make meaning of their lives as foreign-born immigrants. Using a generic qualitative research methodology, this research aims to increase the understanding of internalized experiences of Korean Canadians. In-depth interviews were conducted with eight Korean immigrants who have lived in Canada for more than 10 years. In line with Braun and Clarke (2006), the collected data were analyzed through thematic content analysis. Twelve categories and 28 subcategories emerged from the interview data. The results highlight the bicultural experiences and internalized culture of Korean-Canadians and reveal three main topics: balancing the pros and cons, complexity and ambivalence of cultural identity, and issues related to coping and receiving support.

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Walking hand-in-hand with two cultures : narrative accounts of long-term, bicultural Asian immigrant adults (2015)

Research literature on cultural adjustment has generally shown that immigrants who integrated both home and host cultures have the most favourable outcomes relative to those who have avoided interacting with either or both of the cultures. Yet, cultural integration may occur in many different ways, and the literature is scant in examining how individuals integrate the two cultures over time. This study focuses on long-term immigrants (five males and one female; total n=6) from East and Southeast Asian countries, who transitioned to Canada as adults and subsequently integrated their heritage and receiving culture over the course of 10 years or longer. The research question explored for this research was: how do long-term, bicultural immigrants narrate the process of integrating the two cultures (i.e., their culture of origin and the receiving culture)? This qualitative research aimed to address the gap in the literature using narrative inquiry and thematic content analysis to study how individuals personally made sense of living in and integrating the two cultures. The following five themes emerged: (a) building cultural knowledge, (b) distance from heritage culture and lifestyle, (c) incorporating multiple cultures into own world, (d) application of cultural competency, and (e) developing a personal balance of the cultures. The research results revealed the complexity of achieving and maintaining a balanced cultural integration, and seemed to suggest important directions for future cross-cultural research. Limitations of the current study as well as theoretical, clinical, and methodological implications were discussed.

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Voices of healthcare workers : experience of being on an interdisciplinary team in hospice palliative care (2012)

Having a model of interdisciplinary teamwork is an important part of clinical practice in hospice palliative care. It plays an integral role in providing patient care by multi-disciplines of healthcare professionals who are required to address the intricate needs of patients at the end of life. Yet, the nature of participating in an interdisciplinary patient care team has not been fully understood in theory or clinical work. The purpose of this research was to generate an understanding of the experience of being on an interdisciplinary team in hospice palliative care through healthcare workers’ own voices, using a content analysis method in a qualitative research paradigm. A total of 11 healthcare professionals across medical and psychosocial disciplines participated in this study. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews with these participants and were analyzed for thematic contents. The following six themes regarding the nature and quality of working as a member of an interdisciplinary team emerged; (a) collaborative work, (b) quality of relationships, (c) communication, (d) team building activities, (e) personal qualities, and (f) institutional influence. A conceptual framework is proposed as an “integrative and multidimensional” model of an interdisciplinary team approach to hospice palliative care. The proposed model offers a holistic view of an interdisciplinary team approach. Implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed. Further, suggestions are offered in order to enrich the understanding of interdisciplinary teamwork, to enhance the quality of patient care, to support and advocate the well-being of healthcare workers, and to develop accountability for hospice palliative care programs.

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Defining and negotiating identity and belonging : ethnic name change and maintenance among first-generation Chinese immigrants (2011)

The purpose of this grounded theory study was to examine the little researched sociopsychological process behind ethnic name change and maintenance in cross-cultural transitions, including precipitating contexts, events, interpretations and motivations that led to the decision to change or maintain ethnic names, the internal and external experiences pertinent to ethnic name change and maintenance, the patterns and strategies to cope with acculturative stress and perceived barriers in respect to changing and maintaining ethnic names, and the impacts of ethnic name change and maintenance on immigrants’ lives. In order to answer these research questions, ten participants comprising first-generation Chinese immigrants from Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, including two males and eight females ranging in age between 19 and 45, were interviewed. The findings showed that although many ethnic Chinese felt compelled to adopt western names as a way of adapting to the host society due to feelings of insecurity over their ethnic identities, ethnic name change may not guarantee success in acculturation. In contrast, one’s self-efficacy was much more essential in delivering desired outcomes and coping with acculturative stress. However, ethnic name change likely exerts certain influences on one’s life by affecting the perceptions of an individual by themselves and by others. Based on the differences in the patterns and strategies to cope with acculturative stress between ethnic name changers and non-changers, three styles of defining and negotiating identity and belonging were proposed: enmeshed style, restricted style, and open style. Those who used the open style seemed to be more likely to achieve cultural integration by setting an open, dynamic yet clearly defined cultural boundary. Accordingly, the study proposed a variety of essential components to facilitate acculturation and consolidate cultural identity.

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