Acadia’s Dr. Tanya Surette (Counsellor Education) has been awarded a prestigious New Health Investigator Grant from Research Nova Scotia (RNS) for her project “Resilience and impairment: A study of factors supporting counsellor development and career longevity”. Valued at $99, 906 over two years, the funding will help Surette investigate the important problem of compassion fatigue among Nova Scotia’s counselling professionals.
While compassion fatigue can affect counsellors in different ways (e.g. depression & anxiety), it can also hinder their ability to provide the most effective and therapeutic services possible to their clients, resulting in potentially negative social, psychological and economic outcomes for individual service users. Yet, while compassion fatigue is a serious problem affecting many mental health practitioners, it is not an inevitable outcome of professional counselling and, in fact, many demonstrate a high level of resilience in this demanding but rewarding field.
Despite the way it develops over time, compassion fatigue and resilience are typically studied in single moments of time, capturing present levels of distress or wellness. Dr. Surette’s study will take a developmental approach to better understand the progression of compassion fatigue and resilience amongst counselling practitioners. Tools such as video journal diaries, narrative interviews, artistic exploration, and mental health screening assessments will be employed to follow counselling graduate students from preservice, through their education, internship, and into their early careers. The results of this study will add to the existing literature as well as inform counsellor educators, supervisors, managers, and individual practitioners on ways to support the development of sustainable counselling practices.
Research Nova scotia has provided over 2 million dollars in research funding to early career researchers who are working in areas that align with the province’s health research priorities. You can read about all the recipients on the RNS website.