Robinder Bedi

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

Investigating counselling and psychotherapy as Western cultural healing practices
Counselling psychology disciplinary and professional issues in Canada
Heterodox issues in counselling psychology that challenge its dominant narratives and sacred ideas
Counselling/psychotherapy/mental health with Punjabi/Sikh individuals
Neglected topics in the Psychology of Men and Masculinity

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.
I am interested in working with undergraduate students on research projects.

Research Methodology

Qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods


Master's students
Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows
Any time / year round

Please see my websites for further information:





I support public scholarship, e.g. through the Public Scholars Initiative, and am available to supervise students and Postdocs interested in collaborating with external partners as part of their research.
I support experiential learning experiences, such as internships and work placements, for my graduate students and Postdocs.
I am open to hosting Visiting International Research Students (non-degree, up to 12 months).

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Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Examining the relationships between causal beliefs, colonial mentality, treatment credibility, and help-seeking intentions among Filipinos (2023)

One challenge of prescribing mental health counselling as a global remedy lies in its roots: counselling was developed and shaped primarily by Western culture and is based upon certain underlying culturally-influenced beliefs about the causes of psychological distress and how to treat it. It is reasonable to wonder then about its appropriateness in non-Western contexts and with non-Western individuals. Filipinos, for one, experience relatively high rates of mental health issues and yet are less likely to utilize Western-developed professional mental health services such as counselling. Currently, there is still limited empirical research conducted on how Filipino people’s cultural beliefs about mental distress and their endorsement of colonial mentality (CM), a form of internalized oppression that entails devaluing one’s own culture in favour of that which is Euro American or Western, might influence their perceptions of counselling as a credible healing practice and ultimately, their intentions towards seeking counselling. This study is premised upon Frank and Frank’s (1993) theory about the mechanisms of change in healing practices around the world and asserts that all healing practices share common features that lend to their efficacy. One such feature is a rationale that explains an individual’s presenting issues and informs what rituals or procedures are needed to relieve their symptoms. Accordingly, if the rationale aligns well with one’s cultural beliefs, an individual may be more likely to view that practice as credible and are more likely to seek out said treatment. A final sample of 342 Filipino adults who currently reside in the Philippines were included in this study. Multiple regression analyses were conducted with CM and three causal belief categories (stress, supernatural, non-Western physiology) as the primary predictors, respectively, treatment credibility (TC) as a mediator and predictor, and help-seeking intentions as the outcome variable. The results indicate that the three types of causal beliefs and CM were not statistically significant direct predictors of intent. In contrast, TC was found to not only be a significant predictor of help-seeking intentions but also significantly mediated the relationship between stress causal beliefs and supernatural causal beliefs with help-seeking intentions, respectively.

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Restricted entry : do Punjabi Sikhs have equal immediate access to counselling and psychotherapy services? (2023)

Research has shown that despite mental health practitioners’ intentions to provide unbiased service access to clients regardless of their race, gender, or culture (Truong et al., 2014), disparities persist in access across client sociocultural variables (Kugelmass, 2016; Kugelmass, 2019; Outadi, 2020; Moscovitz et al., 2023; Shin et al., 2016; Shin et al., 2020). One variable that has rarely been the subject of investigation in context of psychological treatment access disparities is religion. Since the Air India 182 and September 11th terrorist attacks, in Canada and the U.S. respectively, the Punjabi Sikh community in Canada has been subject to high rates of discrimination and hate crimes (Ahluwalia & Alimchandani, 2013; Mann, 2017). The current prevalence of general community prejudice against Sikhs could extend to the attitudes of counsellors and psychologists, constraining entry to the latter’s services. The objective of the current study was to examine if prospective Punjabi Sikh clients’ (men’s and women’s, specifically) access to counselling and psychotherapy services is impeded compared with non-Sikh clients, who represent the majority racial-religious group in Canada (i.e., White Christians). The study utilized an experimental design approach called a correspondence audit study as this method is commonly employed to assess for discriminatory behaviour and overcome social desirability bias. The independent variables under study were religion and ethnicity (Sikh or non-Sikh) and gender (man or woman). The main dependent variable was mental health practitioner receptiveness, which was determined by the type of response received by the prospective client requesting an appointment from the mental health practitioner. The secondary dependent variable was mental health practitioner responsiveness which was determined by whether the prospective client received a response back or not. The sample consisted of 853 licensed counsellors and psychologists in private practices located in Metro Vancouver, BC. It was found that being a woman meant a significantly higher probability of getting a practitioner response back to a request for services and being a non-Sikh man client meant a much lower probability of securing an appointment. The results suggest that mental health practitioners do vary in how responsive or receptive they are to a client based on the client’s gender and religious identity, which is consistent with practitioners potentially possessing gender-based or religion-based implicit biases, which impacts how accessible mental health services are to clients requesting appointments.

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Examination of disparity in accessing counselling services for Muslim men: an audit study (2021)

Since the events of September 11th 2001, Muslims have been under increased scrutiny experiencing discrimination, prejudice, and hate crimes. The consequences of this day have had a negative affect on Muslims and their communities’ mental health, making it imperative to ensure Muslims are able to access mental health professionals when needed. However, contemporary counselling and psychotherapy are still criticized for being Eurocentric, and research has shown that disparities in mental health services based on sociocultural variables have continued to persist. It has been noted that religion is an area that has not received much attention in the literature on mental health service disparities leading to a dearth in knowledge on how Eurocentric approaches impact Muslim clients. It is this broader context that highlights the pressing need to investigate the possibility of religious disparities and implicit bias in access to mental health services for Muslims. The goal of this study was to examine if there is possible implicit bias by counsellors and psychologists against Muslims who access counselling and psychotherapy services. An audit methodology utilizing emails examined the effects of clients’ perceived religion on counsellors and psychologists in Greater Vancouver in their openness to provide services. A total of 470 practitioners received an email either from a Muslim male or non-Muslim male potential client, requesting an appointment. The main analyses showed that perceived religion was not a statistically significant predictor of whether a response is received nor how receptive a practitioner will be. Exploratory analyses showed that perceived religion was associated with how long it takes practitioners to respond, with the Muslim man receiving statistically significant quicker responses, compared to the non-Muslim man. This study was the first Canadian study examining mental health services disparities using an audit methodology, as well as the first North American study examining mental health services disparities based on religion, which can help inform future research in this area.

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Factor structure of the hope-action-inventory in a problematic substance use sample (2020)

Alcohol and other substance use disorders are a significant health and social issue in North America (World Health Organization [WHO], 2018). Previous research has found that individuals working to overcome an addiction often report feeling hopeless about their ability to secure employment or return to work in the future (Bauld et al., 2013). Hopefulness and a sense of human agency have been found to be important predictors of positive outcomes, including vocational ones, in a variety of domains for individuals with substance use disorders. Research findings suggest that the presence of hopefulness and being engaged in a meaningful activity, such as a job, are important factors for achieving positive outcomes for individuals with a significant problem with substance use (Ferrari et al., 2012). As such, it is essential to validly and reliably measure career competencies, based on hope and human agency, in clinical settings to provide direction for practitioners on how to effectively support this population. This study evaluated the psychometric properties of the Hope-Action-Inventory (HAI; Yoon, 2017) with a sample of 751 individuals who had ever had a problem with alcohol and other drugs. The HAI is based on Hope-Action Theory (Niles et al., 2019) and was developed to measure an individual’s level of Hope-Centered Career Competencies (i.e., Hope, Self-Reflection, Self-Clarity, Visioning, Goal Setting and Planning, Implementing, and Adapting). This study assessed the reliability of the HAI as well as the scale’s factor structure to explore whether the HAI can be justifiably used to assess career competencies in a problematic substance use population. The HAI was found to have adequate reliability with this previously uninvestigated clinical sample. Furthermore, hierarchical confirmatory factor analysis found that the previously proposed hierarchical seven-factor structure of the HAI fit the data well. These results provide support for the use of the HAI by professionals working with individuals who have ever experienced problematic substance use. Specifically, for the purpose of developing a better understanding about which career competencies clients may need to work on to improve their ability to navigate career development and exploration.

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How men envision themselves as men in the future: a grounded theory (2020)

Compared to women, men experience many poorer health outcomes including having shorter lifespans, higher rates for all 15 leading causes of death, and greater risk of cancer and heart disease (Courtenay, 2000; Statistics Canada, 2005; Singh, Kochanek, & MacDorman, 1994; Viallancourt, 2010). College aged men experience additional challenges such as dropping out of school more often and engaging more frequently in risky behaviours compared to women (Courtenay, 2000; Oliffe, Galdas, Han, & Kelly, 2013). Research illustrates the adherence to traditional masculine norms contributing largely to men’s poorer life outcomes (Shen‐Miller, Isacco, Davies, St. Jean, Phan, 2013). Deficit models of psychology saturate the literature on men and masculinities to provide insights into men’s experiences and therapeutic interventions, but less attention has been given to the study of strengths and positive emotions. (Kiselica & Englar-Carlson, 2010). Further, research demonstrates the lack of engagement of college aged men when receiving psychotherapeutic interventions (Davies, Shen-Miller, & Isacco, 2010; Kiselica & Englar-Carlson, 2010). By using a positive psychology approach to develop clinical interventions, scholars have found increased engagement of college aged men in counselling (Davies et al., 2010; Kiselica & Englar-Carlson, 2010), but literature describing these approaches is largely theoretical. Following recommendations to build theory on men and masculinities using a positive psychology lens (Issaco, 2015) and noting the existence of a new but elusive concept of possible masculinities, the present study aimed to (a) construct a data-driven theory for explaining how college aged men envision their possible masculinities (i.e., what men want to be in the future), and (b) to contribute theory-driven suggestions for psychotherapeutic interventions for college aged men within a positive psychology framework. Using grounded theory methodology, the Envisioning Possible Masculinities Model (EPMM) emerged from analyzing eight focus groups with 49 college aged men. The EPMM describes the contextual factors and processes contributing to how college aged men envision their possible masculinities and summarizes two types of possible masculinities (i.e., internal and external). Results can be used to expand the theoretical understanding of college aged men, aid in the development of engaging clinical interventions, and improve the current conceptualization of possible masculinities.

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Phenomenological experiences of relationships among Indian females in caste-endogamous choice marriages (2018)

In India, social developments have facilitated changes in traditional arranged marriage customs and introduced an alternative option, choice marriage (Allendorf, 2013; Netting, 2010). Deviating from the cultural norm can have adverse consequences, with many individuals in choice marriages reporting negative consequences in their relationships (Raval, Raval, & Raj, 2010; Rocca, Rathod, Falle, Pande, & Krishnan, 2009). Women in choice marriages are at a particular risk for adverse consequence because having a choice marriage means that they are defying the common gender roles prescribed to them by Indian society (Allendorf, 2016). Nevertheless, individuals who engage in choice marriages rarely do so across caste lines. These marriages continue to be largely endogamous (Allendorf & Pandian, 2016; Dhar, 2013). To better understand the phenomenon of Indian women’s relationships after engaging in a caste-endogamous choice marriage, six Indian women were interviewed. The study used an interpretative phenomenological analysis approach, guided by the research question, “What is the meaning of close relationships for Indian females who are in caste-endogamous choice marriages?” Indian women identified relationships with their caregivers to have been most impacted by their caste-endogamous choice marriage. Common aspects of the experience of relationships after having a caste-endogamous choice marriage were identified from interviews. The results found that six themes were common to their relationship experiences after having a caste-endogamous choice marriage: (1) support, (2) connection, (3) responsibility for elders, (4) responsibility for marriage, (5) validation, and (6) respect. Implications of the study’s findings for counsellors who are working with Indian women in caste-endogamous choice marriages and their close relationships are addressed.

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