Marla Buchanan

Professor

Relevant Degree Programs

 

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
How is attunement, disruption, and repair experienced by the therapist in an attachment-focused approach to psychotherapy? (2017)

This study explored the question: How is attunement, disruption and repair (ADR) experienced by the therapist in an attachment-focused approach to psychotherapy? The prevailing conception of ADR has emerged from a confluence of domains of inquiry: infant development research, psychotherapy, and affective neuroscience. However, it was not until recently that insights from these three areas of study converged. This convergence has created a flood of theoretical literature that conceptualizes ADR as a fundamental vehicle for change in the therapeutic relationship. However, two principal issues have been eluded: 1) there has been a lack of consensus on what constitutes attunement, disruption and repair and, 2) while ADR has been investigated extensively in infant development research and has been theorized to occur in the therapeutic relationship, there is a dearth of empirical demonstrations examining attunement, disrupton and repair as experienced by the therapist in the therapeutic process.The current research comprised a qualitative micro-analysis of the moment to moment shifts in the interactive process of ADR as experienced by the therapist. By investigating the question, “How is attunement, disruption and repair experienced by the therapist in an attachment-focused approach to psychotherapy?” the present qualitative study filled in a significant gap in the literature, contributed to our knowledge of the construct and the role of attunement, disruption and repair in the therapeutic process, informed existing theory on affect regulation and attachment repair, and informed the change process in therapy.

View record

XWHY? stories of non-binary gender identities. (2016)

This research project explored the narratives of people who identify as having a non-binary gender identity. This is an important study, filling a gap in current psychology and health literature, because it expands the conversation on transgender and transsexual populations to include people who identify their gender outside of the binary of female and male. Eight people participated in open-ended interviews telling the story of their gender identity. The collaborative narrative method was used in this research, chosen specifically because of its focus on keeping participant voices intact. This in-depth method involved unstructured interviews and collaborative thematic readings of interview transcripts by participants and researchers to identify common experiences shared by people belonging to this population. Some of the major themes explored are threats to welfare, compulsory conformity, the body including gender affirming procedures (surgery/hormones), gender performance, coming out as trans/genderqueer/non-binary, community support and intersectional analysis.

View record

Helping relationships in Portuguese Canadian communities (2015)

A qualitative study using ethnographic methods was conducted within the Portuguese Canadian community to describe how individuals engage in helping relationships related to personal or emotional problems. Using Spradley’s (1979) Developmental Research Sequence (DRS), participant observation, informal group interviews, and formal individual interviews were conducted with Portuguese community members and helpers. Ten informants of Portuguese descent were interviewed. Research codes and domain structures were subjected to participant checks, peer review, and expert review in order to establish the credibility and trustworthiness of this study.Ten domains were described as follows: Reliance on Family; Focus on Physical Ailments; Using Substances and Gambling to Cope with Problems; Accessing the Portuguese Community to Prevent or Cope with Problems; Receiving Help from the Church; Using Forms of Traditional Healing; Accessing Help through Family Physicians; Help Outside the Community; Reasons for Seeking Professional Help; and Barriers to Seeking Help. Cultural themes that arose from the domains were Cultural Rules for Disclosure in Different Contexts, Role Clarity, and Fatalism.This study contributes to counselling psychology research in the following ways: 1) by providing a thick description of helping relationships in the Portuguese community, a topic that has not previously been present in the counselling psychology literature; 2) by presenting barriers to counselling and reasons for seeking counselling that are specific to this population; and 3) by describing aspects of the therapeutic relationship which are culturally relevant to this group. These descriptions provide an easily accessible resource enabling mental health care providers to interact with Portuguese immigrants in a culturally safer andiimore competent manner. This study with a difficult-to-reach population serves as an example of learning to improve or modify mental health services to meet specific cultural contexts.

View record

A narrative exploration of the process of transitioning out of street sex work (2014)

Women’s experience of entering, involvement in, and exiting street sex work is frequently confounded by issues such as addiction, poverty, abuse, trauma, and disempowerment. Many female street prostitutes report a lack of choice in entering sex work as well as a desire to leave the sex industry. While considerable quantitative research exists on aspects of involvement in the sex industry, there is a dearth of qualitative literature on exiting the street sex industry. Furthermore, few studies take a critical perspective, leaving out a contextual understanding of the process. To support female street sex workers wanting to exit, it is imperative to learn from those who have successfully left the sex industry. Using an indigenous feminist theoretical framework to inform a collaborative narrative research design, this study explored eight women’s stories of the process of exiting the street sex trade in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Results revealed the following seven themes: (a) relapsing and readiness to change, (b) a need for stability and time for reflection, (c) goal setting and perspective, (d) systemic and structural barriers, (e) support and community, (f) mental and emotional health, and (g) finding meaning and purpose. This study provides an in-depth and critical understanding of the exiting process in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for female street prostitutes. Potential implications concerning the Downtown Eastside community, counselling psychology training, theory, and research are discussed in attempt to make the transition out of the street sex trade easier for women who desire to do so in the future.

View record

Being there : relationships between people with cancer and their pets : what helps and what hinders (2014)

This qualitative research examined the little studied area of human-pet relationships and their impact on persons with cancer. The goal of this study was to gather information from individuals with cancer who had a pet during their illness and explore the helpful and unhelpful aspects of that relationship as people dealt with the socio-emotional, physiological and spiritual challenges usually accompanying diagnosis and treatment. The Enhanced Critical Incident Technique method (Butterfield, Borgen, Maglio, & Amundson, 2009) was used to gather information and interpret the interviews of 13 British Columbian women with cancer about their relationships with their companion animals. From these interviews, 13 personal accounts were created to give voice to the women’s experiences. The bulk of the data focused on clear descriptions of the ways in which pets contributed to and/or detracted from the participants’ sense of wellbeing during their illness. From this 487 helping critical incidents and 109 hindering critical incidents were formed into 13 categories that represented the areas of impact. In rank order of participation rate the categories are: Companionship & Presence; Emotional & Social Support; Purpose & Role; How Pets are Different from People; Health and Pain Management; Pet Intuition & Adaptability; Being Positive & in the Moment; Pet as Protector & Caregiver; Touch; Unconditional Love & Devotion; Existential & Spiritual Factors; Family Members & Finances, and Caretaking of Sick or Dying Pet. The findings of the study are congruent with the literature from the fields of veterinary medicine, social work, nursing, and anthrozoology in that they confirm the significant and primarily positive impact of the social support, trust and bond experienced by human beings from their companion animals. The results also indicate the distress caused by the lack of resources for pets when they are ill and the suffering caused by pet illness and bereavement. Other unique findings include participants’ experience of their pets as able to intuit subtle changes post-diagnosis and instantly modify their behaviour to attend to their human companions. It is suggested that psychological theory, practice and research engage with further exploration of the relationships between people and their companion animals.

View record

What helps and hinders the decision to access psychological services in a police population : a critical incident study (2014)

Police officers are routinely faced with many competing pressures and demands. Exposure to traumatic incidents and significant job-related stressors can place many at higher risk of developing physical and mental health problems. The police culture exerts a pronounced influence on officers, preventing some from asking for or receiving the assistance they require. Stigma of being perceived as weak or incompetent, concerns about being labelled unfit for duty, and worry that accessing psychological support will impact future career advancement and can affect the decision to seek help in this population. Although strong influences present within this culture have been identified, no previous research has specifically sought to understand how these pressures and influences impact the decision to access psychological services within a police population.The Enhanced Critical Incident Technique was utilized to explore helpful and hindering factors influencing the decision to access psychological services in a population of police officers based on interviews with 20 serving Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers in the lower mainland of British Columbia, Canada. These results contribute to the empirical literature by enhancing what is known about elements that influence an officers’ decision to seek psychological services, and factors that can enable officers to overcome these barriers.The results identify the importance of systemic factors, information and education, quality and influence of relationships, individual characteristics, and organizational processes in creating ideal conditions that will increase the likelihood police officers will access the services of a psychologist. These results will serve to inform individual officers, their families, police supervisors and managers, psychological service providers, and those in related professions with an interest in assisting officers remain healthy over their career and long into retirement.

View record

Reconstructing the self: how women diagnosed with breast cancer re-negotiate a sense of self (2013)

No abstract available.

The relational world of journalists who report on traumatic events (2012)

A growing body of research explores the impact of reporting on traumatic events for journalists. Current research has not focused on early attachment histories or included the relational worlds of journalists in regard to the trauma they witness. The purpose of this study is to provide a detailed portrayal of how journalists who report on trauma understand their relational world both in how earlier relationships contribute to who they are now and what happens in relationships when they are exposed to traumatic events. In this study using a narrative approach and the Life Story interview method the stories of nine journalists who have had experience reporting on traumatic events were told. From their narratives, the methods for thematic analysis of Atkinson, 1998; Lieblich, Tuval-Mashiach, & Zilber, 1998; and Riessman, 1993, 2008 were used to identify relational patterns. Six themes emerged including close family relationships in early life, family relationships being central to well being in adult life, juggling three relational spheres (private life, professional life, relationships with people they report about), finding support for managing trauma, making a difference in human lives through reporting on trauma, and the impact of reporting on traumatic events on relationships. Based on the results of this study recommendations are made for journalists who report on traumatic events at an individual and organizational level. Implications for practice and for further research are also discussed.

View record

Un/settling : a critical ethnographic inquiry into settlement by refugees making claims based on sexual orientation or gender identity persecution (2011)

Propelled by fear of violence and flight from stigma, impelled by desire for connection and belonging, the movements of people whose sexualities or genders defy and offend norms cover a complex spatial, social, and psychological terrain. This critical qualitative inquiry was conducted in partnership with Rainbow Refugee Committee, a community group that supports refugees making claims based on persecution of their sexual orientation or gender identity. To investigate how Queer Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender (QLGBT) refugees engage in settlement, I pursued three inquiry strategies. I wrote reflexively about my on-going participation in the support and advocacy work of Rainbow Refugee. I then conducted narrative interviews and collaborative interpretation process with nine people who had made sexuality or gender based claims. Interpretation proceeded through iterative reading/listening processes: a content reading, a dialogical reading, and a critical reading, and a reflexive reading. A systems perspective generated through interviews with community organizers and lawyers as well as reading media and literature informed the critical reading. This process results in accounts of queer refugee settlement that are situated and polyphonous. QLGBT asylum seekers have lived in defiance of social erasure, stigma, and threatened or actual violence in their countries of origin. Throughout their exit, migration, and application process they are in engagement with neocolonial exclusions based on race, class, gender and sexuality. Participants’ accounts of home country experiences, migration trajectories, application, and settlement portray how these exclusions constrain their efforts to negotiate safety and belonging, and create conditions for (re)traumatization. To settle, QLGBT refugees engage in seeking recognition that confers protection from homophobia/transphobia, and requires enactments of refugeeness and QLGB or Trans identities, while simultaneously resisting stigmas that work against safety and belonging.

View record

Illuminating discourse through lived experience with rheumatoid arthritis (2010)

Ruth was the diarist of a Medical Log, the main research archive, which documented 40 years of lived experience with rheumatoid arthritis. While informants described Ruth‘s coping as exemplary, the latter months of her life were marked by progressive, severe and unremitting pain. At the age of 73, Ruth committed suicide, an act that was generally viewed as rational by informants. Using a critical discourse analytic approach, informed by Parker (1992) and Willig (2001), the present research investigated the cultural discourses (i.e., biomedical, psychological and socio-cultural) that constituted Ruth‘s identity, subjectivity and agency over time. In turn, Ruth‘s embodied experience was used to illuminate the constituting discourses as to the explicit and implicit gaps, ambiguities and contradictions contained within. Hopelessness, at the end of Ruth‘s life, was explored as a dialogically co-constructed reality, deeply embedded within constitutive discourses, rather that simply reflecting a maladaptive cognitive state. The research substantiation of Ruth‘s embodied experience as a public archive was viewed as a moral response to suffering, an invitation for empathetic engagement and understanding as well as an endorsement of Ruth‘s experience as having truly mattered.

View record

Breaking the silence : insights into the impact of being a firefighter on men's mental health (2009)

The purpose of this investigation was to explore the impact being a firefighter has onmen's mental health. Using narrative methodology, six participants were interviewed using an in-depth, open-ended, semi-structured approach. Through a holistic-content analysis (Lieblich, 1998), two major themes — mental health impact of doing the work; and mental health impact of working in the fire department culture — and numerous sub-themes were reflected by theparticipants as being significant in regards to how their mental health has been impacted.Contributions of this study include: (a) providing insights into how firefighters experience their work, both in terms of the job requirements as well as the occupational culture in which they work, (b) offering personal descriptions and thus a deeper understanding of trauma symptoms related to fire fighting, (c) providing a window into a largely closed culture and how the overtand tacit norms in the fire department impact the firefighters mental health, and finally, (d) by speaking, the participants have started the process of breaking the silence that seems to plague the fire service related to disclosing mental health symptoms. Acknowledgement comes beforeacceptance which precedes treatment and healing. The overarching goal of this research was to fill many of the gaps in the research literature and to enhance our clinical understanding of first responder mental health. This study not only adds to the development of the empirical literatureand the construction of theory in the area of trauma, masculinity and health, and occupational culture, it also provides practitioners with empirically-based information on how clients who aredetrimentally impacted from being a first responder can best be served.

View record

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Extinguishing stigma : an examination of firefighter stress, social supports, and attitudes towards psychological help for behavioural health (2018)

Firefighters are exposed to high stress environments, often witnessing multiple traumatic events throughout their careers. Due to a number of recent suicides, unknown deaths, and line of duty deaths in the fire service, a call to examining firefighters’ psychological support and accessibility has become a priority in occupational health and safety. The primary objectives of this study were to investigate firefighter occupational stress, peer supports, and attitudes towards psychological help for behavioural health. Findings from the data collected from 254 firefighters from a large fire department in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia show that disruption of sleep, isolation from family due to work demands and stress, and upsetting thoughts about past runs were the top occupational stressors for firefighters. However, data suggest that these occupational stressors were mitigated by the levels of peer support received; that is, those who reported higher levels of peer support also reported lower levels of occupational stress. Survey data revealed firefighters are in support of seeing professional psychological help for behavioural health. Qualitative data provided insight on what firefighters deemed as helpful or challenging variables when connecting with support, while also providing suggestions for effective mental health supports. Implications of and recommendations from these findings are discussed.

View record

Recovery from alcoholism without religion (2018)

Atheists have been paid little attention in the social sciences, particularly in the field of addiction recovery. An Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) support group, which puts emphasis on belief in God as a means to achieving sobriety, is often the first form of help that people struggling with alcoholism access. The purpose of this study is to provide a rich description of the experiences of atheists who attended AA as a part of their recovery from alcoholism. A semi-structured interview was conducted with four male participants who attended AA and do not believe in God. Thematic Content Analysis (TCA) was used to describe their experience by identifying themes in their stories. The following four themes were identified: religiosity a barrier, exploring personal responsibility, community and connection, and openness and growth. Suggestions for further research and implications for counselling professionals are discussed.

View record

"That's how I found queer culture in so many ways" : narratives of online dating in queer women (2017)

The past few decades have seen a rise in the visibility and legal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people, yet persistent stigmatization has left many searching for alternate ways of seeking connection. An increasingly popular means for LGBTQ individuals to find relationships is through online dating. While the Internet has been prolific in connecting LGBTQ communities, existing research on the use of Internet-dating sites in sexual minorities has focused primarily on gay men’s dating practices, overlooking queer women. The present study used a narrative approach to address the primary research question: What are queer women’s experiences of using online dating websites to find partnership? Qualitative, open-ended interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of five women who identified as queer and had used dating websites. Interviews were then transcribed and analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic content analysis, resulting in the creation of three themes and 13 subthemes. These themes represent a significant and unique aspect of participants’ experiences of online dating, including their reasons for going online, how they navigated those spaces and the issues that they faced. The research findings aligned with previous literature on the subjects of online dating and queer women’s communities, and also highlighted new ideas for consideration and further exploration. Investigating these narratives may ultimately be used to inform clinical practice for sexual minority clients by contributing to our understanding of queer lived experiences and adapting counselling approaches based on this knowledge. This may improve LGBTQ client satisfaction with counselling and increase the potential for beneficial therapeutic outcomes.

View record

Contact! unload : a narrative study and filmic exploration of veterans performing stories of war and transition (2017)

This study uses narrative methods and filmmaking to understand the experiences of six war veterans who performed "Contact! Unload," the theatre component of “Man, Art, Action,” a recent (2015/16) Movember-funded arts-based project, designed to engage veterans and the Canadian public with issues of military mental health. This research harnesses participants’ personal change narratives over the course of creating, rehearsing and performing Contact! Unload to understand therapeutic benefits for participants, to contribute to existing theories on action-oriented and theatre-based approaches to psychotherapy, and to inform a discussion of the needs of veterans in transition. Supplementary materials: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/61396

View record

Culturally-competent counselling with consensually non-monogamous clients : a narrative inquiry (2017)

Consensual non-monogamy (CNM) is a viable relationship practice, yet there is evidence for persisting stigma towards these relationship forms in society and in the disciplines of psychology and counselling. While clinical recommendations for counselling practice with CNM clients have been produced, it is not always clear how these recommendations ought to materialize in practice. This research project explored the following research question through narrative inquiry: How is culturally competent counselling practice achieved with consensually nonmonogamous clients? Three narrative accounts of counsellors who identify as being culturally competent to work with CNM clients were co-constructed through semi-structured interviews to gain insight into how these counsellors ensure their practice is ethically and culturally competent for CNM clients. Interview content was analyzed to identify salient themes, resulting in 40 categories and five major themes: knowledge, advocacy and advancement, affirmative integrative practice, minimization of judgment, and personal factors. The research findings reflected both existing literature on the subject and also illuminated new areas for consideration and research, achieving its aims of furthering understanding of culturally competent counselling with CNM clients. The findings serve to provoke further discussion regarding the enhancement of culturally competent counselling practice with CNM clients in the three areas most influential: knowledge, awareness, and skill.

View record

Mindfulness in the workplace : what helps and what hinders (2017)

Work-related stress is prevalent among many working adults and can lead to a host of detrimental health, psychological, and socio-economic consequences (Van Gordon, Shonin, Zangeneh, & Griffiths, 2014). Researchers have begun to look at the benefits of using mindfulness-based interventions in the workplace (Virgili, 2013), but they have yet to further investigate the mindfulness factors that promote or detract from work performance. To address the absence of empirical accounts in this domain, this qualitative study explored the subjective experience of participants applying mindfulness strategies in the workplace. Enhanced Critical Incident Technique (ECIT; Butterfield, Borgen, Maglio, & Amundson, 2009), a well-validated framework for data analysis and interpretation, was used to explore mindfulness factors that help or hinder effective work performance. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 participants from Google’s mindfulness-training program, Search Inside Yourself (SIY). Data analysis and interpretation identified common themes, patterns, and emerging categories among positive and negative outcomes on work performance, as well as wish list items of resources that participants felt would improve the SIY course and help them to effectively integrate mindfulness into their workplace. Among the helpful factors of integrating mindfulness, 10 categories emerged: (1) communication and interpersonal skills, (2) self-regulation, (3) optimization of performance, (4) ability to cope with stress, (5) empathy, (6) well-being, (7) self-compassion, (8) leadership skills, (9) creative and critical thinking skills, and (10) passion at work. Among the hindering factors of integrating mindfulness, four categories emerged: (1) misperceptions about mindfulness, (2) suitability, (3) time requirements, and (4) dissonance between work goals and mindfulness. To increase the trustworthiness of the research results, nine credibility checks were conducted throughout the study (Butterfield et al., 2009).

View record

The meaning of the lived experience of nonattachment for long-term yoga practitioners (2017)

Yoga is a popular alternative mental health intervention and an integral component of leading mindfulness-based interventions. Yoga helps with concerns like anxiety and depression (e.g., Field, 2011), but we do not yet understand how it helps. With the aim of developing more potent theoretical models of therapeutic yoga, there have been calls in the literature to explore yoga’s underlying principles and constructs, and to use qualitative research methods to look at the lived experience of healthy, long-term practitioners (e.g., Field, 2011; Solomonova, 2015). Mindful nonattachment (e.g., Sahdra, Brown, & Shaver, 2010), which is associated with the promotion of psychological freedom, emotion regulation, well-being, and distress tolerance (e.g., Desbordes et al., 2014; Sahdra et al., 2010; Shapiro, Carlson, Astin, & Freedman, 2006), is an important underlying construct in yoga and may be a helping factor not only in mindfulness, but across psychotherapeutic modalities. This research project investigates the meaning of the lived experience of nonattachment for four long-term yoga practitioners from Vancouver BC. Using Smith, Flowers, and Larkin’s (2009) method of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, interviews with long-term yoga practitioners were conducted to explore their experience of nonattachment in detail. Six superordinate themes emerged: a flexible identity in relationship, developing nonattachment moment by moment, how to see things differently, processing lived experience, choosing freedom, and framework for a way of life. Areas of congruence with the literature and novel findings are discussed in view of the relevant literature on nonattachment and on self-regulatory features of yoga.

View record

Branching out : exploring the stories of female youth in custody (2016)

Female youth in custody are a marginalized population. The majority of research on the topic of risk factors for female youth in custody is quantitative in nature. There has been a lack of opportunity for female youth in custody to tell their own stories in their own words within a research setting. The primary research question was: What are the stories of female youth in custody? This research question was approached through a post-modernist perspective and used a social constructionist epistemology. A narrative methodology was employed. Participants completed a timeline of life events during a pre-interview, and the timeline was used as an elicitation device during the interview. The interviews were transcribed using Mikel Brown and Gilligan’s (1992) Listener’s Guide. The participants were asked to check their transcribed interviews for completeness and accuracy. The transcribed interviews were analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) Thematic Analysis Method. Within this method, the findings were coded and seven themes were identified. The themes included: Family Life, Peer Relationships, School Experiences, Substance Use/Mental Health, Childhood Trauma, Misbehaviour/Criminality, and Future Plans. The findings of the research study have provided invaluable information for future prevention efforts for at-risk children. The findings have also helped to inform counselling psychology practice for the population of female youth in custody.

View record

Lived experience of mattering in teachers : a phenomenological inquiry (2016)

The concept of interpersonal mattering, or one’s perceived significance in the lives of others, has demonstrated importance in the success and well-being of students. This construct, however, has yet to be adequately explored in the teachers who are responsible for creating mattering environments for their students. The purpose of this study was to explore the meaning of teachers’ lived experiences of mattering in the workplace. The aim was to improve understanding of this phenomenon so that teachers and employers may have a greater understanding of the ways in which mattering may impact teachers’ satisfaction and their ability to support students. Participants included six full-time teachers from a variety of different settings. An in-depth interview and a follow-up member check was conducted with each participant. Interpretative phenomenology was used to gain a rich understanding of the essential meanings of the mattering experience from the teachers’ descriptions of their lived experiences. The following three essential themes were uncovered; impacting students, being seen, and belonging to a community.

View record

Silent supporters : understanding clients' lived experiences of animal-assisted therapy in counselling (2016)

The human-animal bond has long been a topic of interest for both researchers and clinicians. There are many studies that support the benefits of animals with regards to humans’ psychological and physical wellbeing, such as improved mental and physical health in pet owners and the use of animals in paramedical practices (e.g., Rector, 2005; Souter & Miller). However, although therapists are engaging animals in their practice all over the world, there is no empirical research looking to understand clients’ experiences of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) in a counselling setting. This was the purpose of the current study. An interpretive phenomenological research design was used. Six adults who had previously been clients of an AAT therapist were interviewed, and their time with an AAT practitioner ranged from 1 to 7 months. The resulting transcriptions were analysed using Langdridge’s (2007) four stages of thematic analysis. Five unifying themes emerged across participant experiences, including: A Comfortable Environment, Animal Behaviour and Characteristics, Human-Animal Relationships, Intrapersonal Experience, and Engagement in Therapy. Three of these five themes also included sub-themes. This study contributes to the current literature by exploring the previously unheard perspective of AAT clients and inviting further discussion on how clients perceive and interpret this unique approach to counselling. Future research regarding AAT and counselling are also discussed, as well as implications for counselling practice.

View record

Stories of yoga and recovery told by survivors of interpersonal trauma : exploring body, self and relationships (2016)

A complex systems view of the mind describes self-regulation as the ability of the mind to dynamically organize itself in a way that integrates the flow of physiological, affective, cognitive and relational experience as a guide to meaning making and adaptive action. Increasing recognition of the complex effects of interpersonal trauma has challenged clinicians to expand therapeutic work to address the self-regulatory challenges of traumatized clients. In addition to disruptions in memory, survivors of interpersonal trauma experience profound disruption in their sense of body, self, and relationships. Working directly with the body through the practice of yoga is believed to address these self-regulatory disruptions, but little research has explored the meaning of this experience for participants in a real-world setting. This study uses an interview-based, narrative method to explore the stories of survivors of interpersonal trauma who participate in yoga classes as part of their recovery process. Specifically, it explores how participants describe and understand their experience of body, self and relationships within the practice of yoga, and in relation to their process of healing from trauma. Four unique narrative accounts were constructed from in-depth interviews with four participants, and analysis utilizing the Listening Guide Method (Gilligan, 2015) focused on themes related to body, self and relationships. A cross-narrative analysis identified themes of teacher as frame of trust and knowledge, reconnection to self through body, restoration of self as agent, and contact with suffering. Findings are discussed in light of existing literature on yoga, mindfulness and traumatic stress studies, and novel findings are framed within an attachment-based, developmental, and complex-systems lens.

View record

Clients' experience of counselling that integrates yoga : a phenomenological inquiry (2015)

Yoga is a mind-body practice that is widely practiced in North America and has demonstrated physical, mental, and emotional benefits, many of which overlap with the benefits of counselling and psychotherapy. Yoga postures, philosophy, breathing, and meditative practices have begun to be used within the counselling paradigm. However, little research has been done on the use and integration of yoga in counselling. This study explored the experience of clients who engaged in counselling that included yoga. Descriptive phenomenology was used to gain a rich understanding of the common essential features of the phenomenon from the participants’ descriptions of their lived experience. Participants included six clients of counselling that integrated yoga (i.e., the use and inclusion of mindful awareness, breath, and bodywork with verbal processing). In-depth interviews and two follow-up member checks were conducted with each participant. Essential themes that emerged include: (1) yoga components: breath, bodywork, body awareness, and mindfulness; (2) counselling component: curious, nonjudgmental verbal processing; (3) integration and transition between components; (4) yoga facilitates processing and regulation; (5) counsellor qualities matter; and (6) this therapy as a whole person, whole life approach. This study contributes to the understanding of this holistic psychotherapy from the client perspective, which gives clients, counsellors, and researchers greater insight and awareness into this emerging integrative practice. Implications for future research and practice in counselling psychology are discussed.

View record

Combat trauma from a child's perspective : through the eyes of an adult (2014)

Using narrative analysis, this in depth case study explores and gains a better understanding of the experience of being a child of a traumatized combat veteran. One adult male participant was recruited for the study. Five themes were extracted from the data: (1) After the War; (2) Distant Father, Prominent Mother; (3) Having a Distant Father; (4) Residual Effects of Trauma; and (5) Being Different. These findings suggest the difficulties that children in families face when a parent suffers from untreated combat trauma. These findings may help practitioners in their support of this unique population.

View record

Counselling? No, thanks! (2014)

No abstract available.

Exploring the experience of adult participants in therapeutic enactment, a group-based trauma intervention (2014)

Counselling and psychotherapy literature frequently reports that group-based interventions are effective and appropriate for addressing psychological trauma. Predominantly, this literature is grounded in theoretical assumptions about the process of healing trauma, or the clinical experiences and observations of clinicians. Although a small and growing body of empirical outcome studies exists, virtually non-existent are investigations into clients' own experiences of the process of group trauma therapy. On the premise that understanding client perspectives is integral to refining intervention techniques and shaping future empirical research, the present study is an inquiry into participants' experiences of therapeutic enactment (TE), a multimodal group-based trauma intervention. Following their participation in the intervention, participants were interviewed using a video-assisted method known as interpersonal process recall (IPR), with the aim of accessing their experience in a more immediate, less retrospective way than more frequently used interview methods. The interview transcripts were analyzed thematically and are re-presented herein as three distinct accounts of experiencing therapeutic enactment. Insights for both clinical and research development are discussed.

View record

Operational stress and the police marriage : a narrative study of police spouses (2012)

Routine exposure to violence in the community, and witnessing the harm and death of others while on-the-job places police officers at risk of developing traumatic stress over time. Research indicates that operational stress experienced by the officer can “spillover” to his or her home life, and a spouse or significant other can become traumatized by association, a concept known as secondary trauma. The direct impact of operational stress on the individual officer has been examined, and studies that consider its effects on police spouses and the marital relationship are based primarily on survey data. The quality of police marriages appears to be dependent on the ability of the couple to cope effectively with this “spillover” effect. The present study includes the stories of eight female spouses of police officers, and explores their perspectives on the experience of being married to a police officer who encounters operational stress, and the impact of stress and coping strategies on the marital relationship. Data were collected using the Life Story interview method, the stories were transcribed verbatim and narrative summaries were created from the transcripts. Coding of the data was done using qualitative data analysis software and a thematic analysis was conducted, resulting in the creation of nine themes and 18 subthemes. These themes illustrate the unique stressors arising from policing, and the individual and relational coping strategies used within the couple relationship to foster resilience and maintain the marriage over time. The results do fit the concept of the spillover effect and the theory of dyadic coping, indicating that individuals within couple relationships do not cope with stress in isolation. Social support is viewed as a buffer against the development of traumatic stress, and findings from this study will help to inform the creation of new treatment and prevention initiatives aimed at enhancing support for police families, other first-responder groups, and couples that experience elevated stress levels over an extended period of time.

View record

Conversations across the divide : journey of an emerging health care provider (2011)

This is an account of my personal journey of struggles, reflections and realizations as a care provider for individuals who live with cancer. Using the autoethnography method, I asked the very personally relevant question, “How do I understand my role as an emerging health care provider (HCP) to immigrant and young adults with cancer?” In other words, where do I fit in? How can I be the most effective caregiver possible? This telling of my journey incorporates my own experiences as well as the experiences of those who live and work with cancer. The journey begins almost a decade ago with an unexpected phone call that sends me to the bedside of a family member with cancer, and proceeds to my more recent experiences as a family caregiver, volunteer and counselling student and researcher. Drawing on multiple data sources, I explore the concept of health care provider, the desire to protect others and wear masks, and my own feelings of regret and guilt. Although this thesis presents my own realizations and insights, I hope that readers of these stories find resonance or dissonance with their own experiences, allowing them to make more sense of their own roles and circumstances.

View record

What helps and what hinders in recovery from cumulative trauma (2011)

This qualitative research used a Critical Incident Technique to explore the resources women have used in their recovery from cumulative trauma, how they used these resources, and what meaning these resources had for the women who used them. Interviews were conducted with seven women who had experienced traumatic events in both childhood and adulthood, and who had reached a level of recovery from this cumulative trauma. Several findings emerged which have the potential to inform counselling approaches when working with women who have experienced cumulative trauma. One finding was that of new resource categories which may be useful for counsellors to explore in their work with women recovering from cumulative trauma. Another finding in regard to the importance of the meaning of these resources was highlighted, leading to the suggestion that counsellors work on a 'meaning' level when exploring helpful resources with their female clients who are recovering from cumulative trauma.

View record

Current Students & Alumni

This is a small sample of students and/or alumni that have been supervised by this researcher. It is not meant as a comprehensive list.
 
 

If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.