Doctor of Philosophy in Counselling Psychology (PhD)
Interpersonal communication styles in suicidal men
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There is an ongoing need to improve the models of and treatments for eating disorders (EDs), given the limited recovery rates. Emotion regulation difficulties predict and maintain these disorders but interventions that teach emotion regulation skills to individuals with EDs have not improved the overall treatment efficacy. Research in developmental psychology suggests that parents influence (socialize) emotion regulation of their adolescent children and can be utilized in treatment as emotion coaches. This can be a promising avenue for future interventions for EDs, if research demonstrates that parental emotion socialization is linked to youth’s ED psychopathology through youth’s emotion regulation, as suggested by theory. This study examined if three channels of emotion socialization – practices (emotion coaching, emotion dismissing, and positive beliefs about daughters’ anger), mothers’ emotion regulation, and expressed emotion (critical comments, emotional overinvolvement) – were associated with daughters’ ED psychopathology through daughters’ emotion regulation. Individual differences that might be associated with emotion socialization were also examined. 135 mothers of daughters either with or without an ED diagnosis completed a battery of measures. Daughters’ ages ranged from 12 to 24 years. Results indicated that mothers’ emotion coaching, emotion regulation difficulties, and critical comments were indirectly related to daughters’ ED psychopathology through daughters’ emotion dysregulation. Emotional overinvolvement was only linked to ED psychopathology directly. Mothers’ psychological functioning or daughters’ diagnostic status (presence or absence of an ED diagnosis) were not significantly related to emotion coaching, emotion dismissing, or positive beliefs about anger. This study is a first step towards understanding how emotion socialization, especially emotion coaching, is linked to ED psychopathology and it can inform future research and clinical practice.
Crisis counselling via suicide prevention hotlines has demonstrated reduced distress and suicidality in individuals seeking support. Text-based online crisis counselling services (i.e., chats) are becoming an increasingly common way to support suicidal individuals in crisis. Existing research has not yet established a clear understanding of the crisis counselling process and how it relates to outcomes like reduced distress and suicidality. The purpose of this study was to build on current research by examining patterns of different crisis counsellor helping styles and exploring their associations with chatter outcomes, with the goal to develop a theoretical stage model of online crisis counselling. This study also explored whether crisis counsellor behaviours considered to be unhelpful were associated with a lack of chatter improvement. Past chat transcripts (N = 100) from a local crisis intervention centre were collected and coded for different crisis counsellor helping styles (i.e., active listening, collaborative problem-solving, and unhelpful) and chatter outcomes (i.e., affect, suicide risk, and suicide ideation). Analyses of variance were performed. Results indicated that active listening and collaborative problem-solving styles fluctuated over the course of chat, and some patterns of different crisis counsellor behaviours were associated with chatter outcome. Unhelpful crisis counsellor behaviours were associated with lack of chatter improvement. These findings contribute to the growing body of literature on online crisis counselling by generating a theoretical model of what the online crisis counselling process could look like, and how it may support suicidal individuals. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
While motivation has been shown to be a robust predictor of eating disorder treatment outcome, little attention has been paid to the role of confidence. This study sought to better understand the role of confidence and the possible interaction it may have with motivation in promoting eating disorder symptom change. Participants were adult women (N = 159) in inpatient treatment for eating disorders. They completed measures of readiness and motivation for change, which assessed precontemplation, action, confidence and internality (changing for oneself vs. for others) and eating disorder symptom severity at pre- and post-treatment. Medical variables (e.g. height and weight) were also recorded. Precontemplation and confidence had significant effects on pre-and post-treatment symptom severity, while action only had a significant effect on pre-treatment symptoms. Confidence was also shown to moderate relations between both measures of readiness (i.e., precontemplation and action) and change in symptoms. Follow up analyses indicated that high precontemplation (low readiness) was associated with poor outcome, irrespective of confidence, however, low precontemplation (high readiness) was associated with better outcome at high levels of confidence. The interaction between confidence and action was significant only at very high levels of confidence. Among individuals who had high action at baseline, those with lower confidence had significantly poorer outcomes relative to those with high levels of confidence. Findings indicate that readiness and confidence are important prognostic factors and suggest that early behaviour change in the absence of confidence does not guarantee best outcomes in inpatient eating disorder treatment.
Victims of childhood emotional maltreatment (CEM) often experience lasting interpersonal impacts. CEM is commonly experienced as a betrayal of trust and can lead victims to generalize this mistrust to relationships in adulthood, including their romantic partners. The aim of the present study was to better understand the association between CEM and partner trust by examining the relative strength of three potential mediators – psychological flexibility, maladaptive self schemas, and maladaptive other schemas. The study also investigated whether psychological flexibility buffers the association between maladaptive schemas and partner trust. Adults (N = 231) in committed romantic relationships completed measures of CEM, romantic partner trust, maladaptive schemas, and psychological flexibility. Simple and multiple mediation analyses were performed. I found that maladaptive self schemas were a stronger mediator than maladaptive other schemas; however, psychological flexibility was a more potent mediator than either schema type. Contrary to my hypothesis, psychological flexibility did not significantly moderate the effect of maladaptive schemas on partner trust. The findings highlight the importance of attending to and increasing psychological flexibility with victims of CEM to facilitate romantic partner trust. Practical and clinical implications are discussed.
Emotional disclosure—verbal communication of emotional experiences—reduces emotional distress and positively impacts interpersonal relationships. Consequently, concealing emotions has been shown to negatively impact physical and psychological health. Previous research has shown that people with attachment avoidance orientation, and people with alexithymia, limit their use of emotional disclosure as a means of affect regulation. Little research however, has been conducted to determine if alexithymia mediates the negative relation between attachment avoidance and emotional disclosure. Additionally, there is little research evaluating the moderating effect of gender on the relation between attachment avoidance and alexithymia. Presently, we investigated if alexithymia mediated the negative relation between attachment avoidance and emotional disclosure. Secondarily, we evaluated whether gender moderated the positive relation between attachment avoidance and alexithymia. Participants were Mechanical Turk workers (N = 178) who completed measures of attachment orientation, alexithymia, and generalized emotional disclosure tendencies. Our primary hypothesis was supported: alexithymia partially mediated the relation between attachment avoidance and emotional disclosure. Our secondary hypothesis was also supported: gender moderated the relation between attachment avoidance and alexithymia in that the relation was stronger for male participants compared to female participants. Implications for theory and counselling psychology practice will be discussed.
Across Canada, schools are serving an increasingly multicultural student population, one with diverse and sometimes unfamiliar experiences and worldviews. Despite this fact, very little research has been conducted on school counsellor multicultural self-efficacy in Canada. To address this gap, a survey research design was used to assess the level of multicultural self-efficacy among a sample of school counsellors (N = 226) in British Columbia. This study also sought to identify the demographic and workplace variables that contribute to higher levels of multicultural counselling self-efficacy among school counsellors in British Columbia. In addition, the study examined the relative contribution of years of experience versus caseload diversity, and the impact of high levels of multicultural training on the relationship between self-efficacy and years of experience. The School Counselor Multicultural Self-Efficacy Scale (SCMES; Holcomb-McCoy, Harris, Hines, & Johnston, 2008) measured self-efficacy across six factors. Results suggest that BC school counsellors have moderate to high levels of multicultural counselling self-efficacy across all six factors of the SCMES. Hierarchical regression analyses were used to identify the unique contributions of specific predictor variables to specific SCMES factors. Three distinct patterns emerged. In Pattern #1, graduate-level multicultural training courses, and frequency of cross-cultural sessions were the most influential predictors. In Pattern #2, multicultural training alone exerted the greatest influence. However, in Pattern #3, teaching experience and community setting combined with graduate-level multicultural training as significant contributors to a single factor: Factor 3 (Developing Cross-Cultural Relationships). Factor 3 plays an important and unique role in subsequent analyses. The implications of these findings for counsellor training and practice, and suggestions for further research are discussed.