Anusha Kassan

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

Child and youth mental health
Social justice
Multiculturalism and diversity
Feminist-multicultural pedagogy
Cultural and social justice responsiveness
Anti-oppressive therapy

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.

Research Methodology

Qualitative methodologies


Master's students
Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows

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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.

Queer newcomer youth's understandings of sexual orientation through the process of school integration (2023)

Understandings of sexual orientation vary across individuals, cultures, geographic regions, and time. In queer theory, sexual orientation is seen as a social construction that is understood through the subjective experience of individuals. Queer newcomer youth are defined as immigrants, refugees, and international student youth between the ages of 19 and 24 who haveimmigrated in the last five years and identify broadly as non-heterosexual (e.g., gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, queer, questioning etc.) (hereafter, QNY). QNY experience a process known as school integration, which is defined broadly as the adjustment of newcomer youth to student life both inside and outside school spaces. For these youth, school integration may also entail negotiating competing cultural understandings of sexual orientation with those of their host country. This process and the resulting understandings of sexual orientations may be of particular importance to QNY, as adolescence is considered a significant period for sexual identity development.However, extant literature has focussed on Western-centric, non-immigrant understandings of sexuality and sexual orientation and has subsequently failed to consider the intersectional experiences and understandings of QNY. In this study, I used a phenomenographic methodology guided by a queer theory theoretical framework to explore, understand, and compare various ways QNY understand sexual orientation through the process of schoolintegration. The aim of this study was to explore the ways QNY understand sexual orientation, and to inform broader conceptualizations of school integration and immigration. Data analysis revealed four qualitatively different understandings of sexual orientation collectively held byQNY: (a) attraction to gender; (b) attraction to type; (c) what you do; and (d) what you feel. Findings are discussed in the context of van Anders’ (2015) sexual configurations theory and Fuks et al.’s (2018) integrative model of cultural, sexual and gender identity development, alongside extant queer immigration, and sexuality literature. Limitations and strengths of this study, and implications for school psychology practice, training, research, and policy are also discussed.

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School-based psychosocial support services through the process of school integration: a phenomenological exploration of newcomer youth experiences (2022)

The full abstract for this thesis is available in the body of the thesis, and will be available when the embargo expires.

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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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Being in between: Discovering the identities of emerging adult immigrants (2015)

The proposed research aimed to discover the ways in which emerging adult immigrants negotiate their cultural identities within the context of both cultural and developmental transition. Using a grounded theory research design, 10 intensive-interviews were conducted with emerging adult immigrants, ages 19-27, who had immigrated and saw Canada as their long-term home. Emerging data was analyzed and results of this study yielded a conceptual model of cultural identity formation (MCIF) for emerging adult immigrants. The MCIF suggests that One’s Motivation and Sense of Agency to Create a New Identity is at the core of participant’s navigation of cultural identities. Additionally, the MCIF for emerging adult immigrants outlined six higher-order categories (1) Family Cultural Rigidity, (2) Connections Specific to Canada, (3) Connection to a Same Cultured Community, (4) Sense of Permanency, (5) Desire to Preserve Culture of Origin, (6) Desire to fit in to Canadian Culture, as well as two overarching factors (a) Dimension of Time and the (b) Dimension of Age that were found to be influential on participant’s overall sense of cultural identities (Blended, Dual, Disconnected, Intermediate). The present model and accompanying theory contributes to a deeper understanding of the lived experiences and sense of cultural selves of emerging adult immigrants during these phases of change. Recommendations for further research are made, as well as recommendations for counsellors working with an emerging adult immigrant population.

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The Experience of Settlement Work with LGBTQ Newcomers (2015)

The purpose of this research was to contribute to the literature on migration and settlement work for LGBTQ newcomers and the service providers who support them in Canada. The study employed a descriptive phenomenological research approach to answer the following question: “What are service provider’s perceptions and descriptions of their work in supporting LGBTQ immigrant clients?” Interviews were conducted with twelve service providers working in settlement, social work, and counselling psychology, with experience working with LGBTQ newcomers ranging from fourteen months to twenty five years. Participants represented nine languages and five ethnicities, and worked within the Metro Vancouver region of British Columbia, Canada. Utilising Giorgi’s (2009) descriptive psychological phenomenological method, data analysis uncovered three overarching structures that captured participants’ experiences of settlement work with LGBTQ newcomers. These structures included a) service providers’ perceptions of LGBTQ newcomers’ needs and experience, b) organizational issues, and c) personal impact. This study contributes to a greater understanding of the ways in which settlement work is done with LGBTQ newcomers, and sheds light on factors that are both challenging and beneficial to their service provision work. Recommendations for further research are made, as well as specific recommendations for training and counselling psychologists working with LGBTQ newcomers.

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