Dr. Dawn Lorraine McBride, registered psychologist and associate professor in the Faculty of Education, is a strong proponent of providing education to those who have limited access to a campus, such as those who reside in remote areas. While teaching in the United Arab Emirates she worked with three Alberta universities to develop Canada’s first Master of Counselling graduate program delivered online with residential components. This is work she continues today at the University of Lethbridge.

Our intensive online counsellor education program is innovative and creative,” says McBride, “with an emphasis on interactive, engaging, self-discovery-based learning.”

Small cohorts of twenty students from across Canada quickly bond as they share their lives online through stories and pictures; debrief lesson material by making a series of verbal or written e-posts addressed to their classmates, and participate in webinars. “The instructor is just as present with online students as if one was in a classroom,” says McBride, who joins her students in sharing stories.

Many of McBride’s students are working teachers interested in becoming school counsellors. She notes that online learning is a good fit for counsellor training.

The tightly-knit cohort creates a nurturing community that reflects the sense of safety and belonging fundamental to effective counselling practices. In addition, interpersonal communication and professional writing skills (essential for assessments and session notes) often improve dramatically from participation in the three-year, part-time program.

Every summer students gather on campus to discuss counselling topics and practice counselling skills. “It’s an intensive group experience” says McBride. During the on-campus practicum seminars McBride’s students learn how to treat self-harm, use expressive arts and props in therapy, and study somatic interventions.

“Our campus stretches far and wide. We go into the field wherever we can,” says McBride, who supervises provisional psychologists across the province and volunteers as an ethics examiner for the College of Alberta Psychologists.  In addition to online teaching, her research interests include promoting ethical behaviour, using expressive arts in therapy, working in schools (assertiveness training for beginning teachers, social justice, self-harm), and addressing trauma, including family violence.

According to McBride, counselling interventions promote emotional regulation, which often involves therapists helping students, parents, and others to:
• tolerate strong affect, without hurting themselves or others
• bounce back after a stressful experience, rather than ruminate about the past
• engage in effective problem solving on three levels: emotionally, cognitively, and behaviourally
• maintain a sense of self-worth when under pressure
• maintain healthy connections, even when under stress

Writer: Elizabeth McLachlan | Photographer: Rob Olson


Related story links to Faculty of Education Graduate Studies and Research:
Coping with COVID-19: Harnessing our Natural Stress Response
Coping with COVID-19: Loneliness
How Students Can Get Screen Time Break During COVID-19: Experts
The Intersectionality of Faith, Mental Health and Wellness for Racialized   Populations During the Pandemic
Bridging Neuroscience and Education: Riley Kostek (BSc’09/BEd’11)
Teaching and Assessing for Life Beyond the Classroom: Dr. David Slomp
Five questions with Shining Graduate Rita Lal (BSc/BEd '01, MEd '20)
Teaching Multiple Literacies in Canadian Classrooms: Sarah Gagnon (BSc/BEd’11, MEd candidate)
Wellness is About Writing: Teri Hartman (BA/BEd '02, current MEd student)
Leadership in Education: The Power of Generative Dialogue
A Generative Approach to Leadership for All Educators

For more information please contact:

Darcy Tamayose
Communications Officer
Dean's Office • Faculty of Education
University of Lethbridge
Learn more about the Faculty of Education: Legacy Magazine (2008-2019)
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