An acclaimed final project on the ethical implications of releasing client records was instrumental in a pair of awards for Jessica Hodson (MC ’22), who plans to use her Master of Counselling degree from the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education to become a registered psychologist.

Jessica Hodson was awarded the School of Graduate Studies Medal of Merit, Master of Counselling as well as the Gold Medal of the Governor General, presented to the student with the highest academic standing at the graduate level.

Hodson’s work was published in the Journal of Ethics in Mental Health, and she was also invited to present it at a national lawyers’ conference last November. In addition, her work was presented on her behalf by her supervisor at the Canadian Psychologists Association Conference in June.

Hodson, who lives and works in Edmonton, admits the accolades were nice, but awards and recognition weren’t on her mind when she chose her project topic. The project was inspired by situations she encountered in her work with a non-profit agency in Edmonton in which it became apparent that the issue of record release could pose a potential barrier to people seeking counselling help. She hopes her work will promote thought and discussion about the matter of client confidentiality and adds, “I think it will shape how I’ll approach the issue throughout my career.”

Hodson’s journey toward the counselling field began during her undergraduate education when she took a course in introductory psychology. “I loved the material and decided this was what I wanted to do.”

Working with a non-profit agency allowed her to confirm her desire to make that her career. “I could see the impact you can make by being there as a support for people.”

Hodson is interested in eventually doing trauma work, something that has roots in her family, with her father working as a police officer and her mother as a nurse. Hodson has moved one step closer to her goal of becoming a registered psychologist by receiving provisional registered psychologist status with the Alberta College of Psychologists.

Hodson chose to participate in the Faculty of Education's Graduate Studies program because it afforded the blended program that would allow her to do her masters studies while continuing to work at her job. It also offered the cohort format that was important to her. “That meant a lot to me because I could start and finish the program with the same people,” she says.

My favourite part was my cohort and building lifelong relationships. It was an amazing cohort, very supportive. I see myself staying in contact with them.”

The emotional support she received from the other cohort members was a great benefit to her throughout her studies. “It was nice to know people would be there when you needed someone, to know you weren’t in it alone. It helps you manage the stress.”

While the COVID pandemic prevented the usual face-to-face summer sessions with her cohort, she says, “I actually enjoyed the online learning format.”

Hodson has praise for the quality of education she received from the Faculty of Education at the U of L.

I really appreciate the opportunity to learn from such experts in the field,” she says, noting Faculty of Education's psychology professor Dawn McBride was one such person who was fundamental to her training.

Writer: Dave Sulz | Photographer: Rob Olson

Related story links to Faculty of Education Graduate Studies and Research:
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The Creativity of Curriculum and 36 Years with the Faculty of Education: Dr. Richard Butt
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