William Borgen

Professor

Relevant Degree Programs

 

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Mar 2019)
Following the enlivening thread : the experience of providing Christian spiritual direction (2017)

This dissertation is an exploration of spiritual direction, from the perspective of counselling psychology, as it manifests in the reflective phenomenological experiences of the spiritual director. To explicate this topic, I asked the research question What is the meaning of the lived experience of the spiritual director in providing spiritual direction? In the tradition of spiritual direction, a person deepens their individual relationship to the Divine through a personalized spiritual practice with the help of a trained spiritual director (Gratton, 2005). Although the spiritual direction discourse, one of healing and personal development, is similar to many types of psychotherapy (Vittersø & Søholt, 2011; Vittersø, 2016), it has not often been examined systematically in counselling psychology. In this dissertation, I used Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to focus on the meaning of the experience of the spiritual director. Five expert spiritual directors were interviewed for the study. The individual experiences of the participants were analyzed, and six collective themes with emergent subthemes were developed. Embedding the findings in psychology theory, clinical implications and future research implications were discussed. The findings add to the literature by noting connections of the spiritual direction process in this study to psychological theories including the model of therapeutic presense (Geller & Greenberg, 2002), the emergence model of clinical process (Marks-Tarlow, 2015), love as a process in therapy (Fosha, 2004) and corroborated Gubi’s (2011) findings on the similarities and differences of spiritual direction and therapy. The study added to the literature by using a recognized qualitative methodology to provide a rich description of the experience and meaning of being a spiritual director. It touched on the experience using a broad scope: from the participant’s development of becoming a spiritual director over time to their approaches and experiences in sessions. Finally, the study gave a sense of the profession of spiritual direction in an experience-based way by interviewing the 5 spiritual directors and developing themes described in the voices of the participants.

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The experience of university students in cultivating mindfulness : what helps and hinders (2016)

This study explored the experience of university students in cultivating mindfulness. University students face many unique academic, financial, social, and personal stressors in the pursuit of their educational goals. The literature suggests that the nature of mental health is changing for today’s students, with increasing prevalence, chronicity, complexity, and severity of psychological issues. University counselling centres serve a growing number of students with severe psychological problems, many presenting in crisis and requiring immediate response. This consistent rise in clients seen by centres, compounded with stretched resources and budgetary concerns, is causing many centres to incorporate different treatment modalities to address these challenges. Outcome research suggests that mindfulness is a beneficial intervention with university students, especially in reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. However, there is limited qualitative research on the experience of university students in cultivating mindfulness, and no known published research on what facilitates and challenges students who participate in a mindfulness-based intervention as part of treatment at a university counselling centre. Fourteen participants were interviewed about what helps and hinders their cultivation of mindfulness. All participants had completed a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction group as part of treatment through their university counselling centre. The Enhanced Critical Incident Technique was used to analyze the interviews, which produced 390 total incidents, with 195 helping incidents, 130 hindering incidents, and 65 wish list items. These incidents and wish list items were grouped into 19 categories. The 11 helping categories are Mindfulness Practice, Mindfulness Group, External Environment, Personal Strategies, Benefits of Mindfulness, Routine, Mindfulness Concept, Social Support, External Reminders, Inspirational Others, and Stress. The five hindering categories are Disruptions, Time, Tired, Emotion and Anxiety, and Interpersonal Relationships. The three wish list categories are Space, Resources, and Cultural Shift. The findings suggest that mindfulness practice and the influence of the mindfulness group are important factors for students’ cultivation of mindfulness, as well as external context, personal factors, and the influence of others outside of the mindfulness group.

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What helps, hinders, and might help police officers maintain a broad identity (2015)

The researcher used the Enhanced Critical Incident Technique (ECIT) to examine what helps, hinders, and might help police officers to maintain a broad identity. For this study, broad identity refers to enjoying a range of occupational, social, and personal roles. The findings contribute to work-life balance literature with an identification of what might help officers to maintain balance. Twenty-one police officers from across Canada and the United States were interviewed to explore their perspective as to what factors impacted their ability to maintain multiple life roles. Analysis of participant responses resulted in the identification of 400 critical incidents, 221 helping, 126 hindering, and 53 wish list items, forming 23 categories. Implications for future research are discussed. Implications for counselling and police organizational practices include supporting police and their families in fortifying other life roles and managing role conflicts.

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Probation officers and the work environment : coping well with change (2010)

This was a qualitative, exploratory study that focused on three research questions: 1) what is the lived experience of experienced probation officers who are coping well with change, 2) what are the self-sustaining strategies probation officers use to cope well with on-going change in their work life, what hindered them from doing well, and were there things that would have been helpful but were unavailable, and 3) whether the research interview itself had an impact on probation officers’ sense of well being. This study used a descriptive phenomenological approach to gather information about probation officers’ experiences of career and change, and the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) (Flanagan, 1954) to elicit helping and hindering incidents and wish list items. A quantitative component was embedded in the form of a pre-and-post scaling question to determine if the interview process itself had an impact on the participants. Data from the phenomenological portion of the study elicited major themes for each of the relevant questions and established the contextual framework for the CIT component of the study. Data from the CIT portion of the study elicited ten helping, hindering and wish list categories. These ten categories represent the strategies that probation officers utilize in order to cope well with change. Data from the quantitative component of the study indicated that the research interview had minimal impact on participants. Implications for further research and theory development along with suggestions for workers, organizations, and counsellors are discussed.

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Counselling through interpretation : the meaning of the collaborative interpreter's experience of re-creating therapeutic intent across languages and cultures (2009)

Few studies concerning the appropriate use of interpreters in counselling exist despite the changing demographics in Canada that indicate the likelihood of an increased need for this service (Health Canada, 2001). It has been suggested that in order to fully develop standards of practice in this area, the neglected perspective of the interpreter must be included (Granger & Baker, 2002). The intent of the present research was to address this absence by inquiring into theexperience of the collaborative interpreter. This role is arguably the most complex, requiring the interpreter to provide language and cultural access as well as engage in the therapeutic process.Four collaborative interpreters from three different cultural and language groups wereinterviewed. Each had received basic training in a constructivist therapy modality, and worked for at least seven years with a dominant-culture, English-speaking therapist in a community basedcounselling program for immigrants and refugees. A hermeneutical phenomenologicalmethod was used to generate a description of the common meaning structures of thecollaborative interpreter’s experience. The advantage of this method was that it could address the multiple cultural contexts and multiple languages involved in this study, and still be sensitive to the lifeworld of the collaborative interpreter. As an interpretive inquiry, the results produceddescriptions of three meta-themes. These themes illuminate the essential meaning of the collaborative interpreter’s contextualized experience of a relational self. They include the collective self, which is an understanding of self as “we” distributed among the relationshipsformed by the counselling triad; the distinct self, which describes the heightened awareness and reconciliation of self as “other” in the triad; and the merged self, which describes the experienceof self as the instrument of a functional alliance. Implications for interpreter use in multicultural counselling are discussed.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010-2017)
Back to school : re-engagement from the adolescent perspective (2015)

School absenteeism and disengagement is a growing concern among adolescents in North America. However, numerous students have been successful in reengaging into school and completing their education. As such, the purpose of this research was to contribute to literature on school re-engagement by exploring an adolescent perspective of the experiences that were helpful and unhelpful in returning to school. This qualitative study employed the Enhanced Critical Incident Technique (ECIT; Butterfield, Borgen, Maglio, & Amundson, 2009) to answer the following central research question: What meaningful experiences do adolescents perceive as influencing their high school re-engagement? More specifically, three sub-questions were addressed (a) What do adolescents perceive as being helpful in the re-engagement process? (b) What do adolescents perceive as being unhelpful in the re-engagement process? (c) What do adolescents feel would have been helpful during the time of their re-engagement? Semi-Structured interviews were conducted with 16 adolescents, ages 14-18, who had successfully re-engaged in high school after a period of problematic school absenteeism. Using a set of standardized procedures to analyze participants’ interview data, 14 meaningful categories emerged as being facilitative or hindering of the school re-engagement experience. According to participants, in decreasing order of importance, helping, hindering, and wish list categories included (a) teacher variables, (b) perspective shift, (c) emotional distress, (d) peer relationships, (e) family factors, (f) problem resolution, (g) sleep, (h) school factors, (i) consequences, (j) professional supports, (k) goal attainment, (l) extracurricular activity, (m) substance use, and (n) other priorities. Results of this study have important implications for training and practice. Moreover, directions for future research are discussed.

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Mindfulness, gratitude and perceived stress among counsellor trainees (2015)

This study uses data from a larger mindfulness study to investigate the impact of a mindfulness and gratitude intervention on mindfulness, gratitude and perceived stress among graduate counselling psychology students in clinic. Twelve participants took part in a weekly meditation and gratitude journaling intervention, and three participants were in a control group. Participants also completed a questionnaire package four times: pre-intervention, one week after mindfulness training (during the first week of the intervention), at six weeks of intervention, and at twelve weeks. The questionnaires completed were the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS; Baer, Smith, & Allen, 2004), Gratitude Questionnaire-Six Item Form (GQ-6; McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS; Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983). No significant differences for the main of effect of intervention or the interaction between time and intervention were found between the control and intervention groups on the dependent variables. The main effect of time was found to be significant for the Observing subscale of the KIMS. Significant negative correlations were found between perceived stress and gratitude at 6 and 12 weeks. There were also significant negative correlations between perceived stress and the Observing and Describing subscales of the KIMS at pre-intervention, 1 week and 12 weeks. At 1 and 12 weeks, there was a significant negative correlation between perceived stress and the Acting with Awareness subscale of the KIMS. Finally, there was a significant correlation between perceived stress and Accepting without Judgement subscale of the KIMS at 6 weeks. Findings are discussed in context of the literature, as well as implications and future research.

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What helps and hinders women doing well in historically male-dominated careers : a critical incident study (2015)

Women working in historically male-dominated careers experience a unique work environment. To date, some research has been conducted on this population, however most studies focus on challenges and barriers to success. Few studies have examined the women who have found success in their work in male-dominated environments. This study explored the experiences of women working in fields dominated by men and aimed to elucidate how these women understand success in their work.The enhanced critical incident technique was used to explore what factors help and hinder the success of 9 women participants working in historically male-dominated careers. Results highlight three main areas: a) the importance of supports outside of work, b) the role that attitude and self-concept has in feeling successful, and c) the relevance of a relational theory of career when working with this population. These results will serve to inform counsellors working in career, policy developers and future research.

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The experience of cultural transition among adolescent newcomers (2013)

The purpose of this research was to contribute to the literature on migration during adolescence by exploring the phenomenon of cultural transition as experienced by newcomer youth in Canada. The study employed a descriptive phenomenological research approach to answer the following question: “How do adolescents who immigrate or seek refuge in a new country experience cultural transition?” Interviews were conducted with ten adolescent newcomers, ages 15-17, who had migrated to Canada during their adolescent years. Participants represented six different countries of origin, and resided in both Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Using Giorgi’s (2009) psychological phenomenological method, data analysis uncovered eight major structures that captured participants’ experience of cultural transition. These structures included: (a) Pre-migration Experiences/ “I was excited”; (b) Post-migration Impressions/ “A totally new environment”; (c) Education/ “I’m always in school”; (d) Friendships “Friends is such an important part”; (e) Family/ “Changing makes you come closer”; (f) Language/ “Sometimes I don’t want to say anything”; (g) Internal Experiences/ “I wanted to leave” and (h) Cultural Identity/ “A bit of everything”. This study contributes to a greater understanding of the ways in which adolescents in Canada experience cultural transition, and sheds light on factors that are both challenging and supportive to their integration. Recommendations for further research are made, as well as specific recommendations for counsellors working with newcomer youth and their families.

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Critical incidents in grieving the death of companion animals (2012)

This study examined what bereaved pet owners found particularly helpful and particularly difficult in their grieving process. The Critical Incident Technique (CIT) was used. Eight bereaved pet owners identified 87 helping and 44 hindering categories that formed 12 helping and 7 hindering categories. The following helping categories had the highest participation rate: Social Support, Reminders & Keepsakes, and Calm Final Moments. The most highly endorsed hindering categories were: Guilt, Regret, and Second-Guessing; Hindering Social Responses / Lack of Support and Understanding; and Difficulty Transitioning to Life Without the Animal. Nine credibility-checks were performed to ensure the integrity of the data and the study findings.

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What brings you here? : a narrative inquiry into the decision to pursue a master's degree in counselling psychology (2012)

While much has been written about students’ career development, not much is known about the real-life process by which students come to career decisions in today’s changing world of work. No studies have yet investigated the career decision-making (CDM) process of master’s in counselling psychology students specifically. As a result, the purpose of this study was to explore how and why people decide to study counselling. My research question was: “What is the experience of making and implementing the decision to pursue a master’s degree in counselling psychology?” Using the method of narrative inquiry, I conducted semi-structured interviews with eight master’s in counselling psychology students and the resulting narratives suggest thirteen cross-narrative themes. These themes encapsulate students’ experiences in terms of the process of decision-making, the influence of social context, motivations for pursuing the field of counselling, and motivations for entering and sustaining graduate studies. The findings suggest there is no one straight path that leads people to study counselling, but rather a process involving individual experiences, the influence of others, and a varying tempo of reflection and action. Both planned and unplanned events, as well as decision-making through intuition, emotion, and sometimes a sense of destiny or spiritual connection, are implicated. Themes also suggest that participants chose to study counselling because of the enjoyment of helping experiences, an interest in people, and a desire for meaningful work. Findings indicate the need for additional qualitative research into CDM processes. Implications for the practice of career counselling include expanding beyond traditional career counselling theories to include integration of non-rational and contextual decision-making approaches.

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