Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

On the leading edge–StFX psychology faculty and students celebrate success at national convention

July 11th, 2018
Delegates at the pre-conference

Once again, StFX psychology faculty and students were well represented at the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) National Convention, which brings together almost 1,800 psychologists and psychology students. 

Of particular note, StFX psychology professor Dr. Karen Blair organized the largest ever LGBTQ psychology conference to take place in Canada as a pre-conference, and StFX psychology professor Dr. Margo Watt was honoured with the John C. Service Member of the Year Award from the Canadian Psychological Association, recognizing CPA members or fellows who have given exceptional service or made a distinguished contribution to the association during the year. 

The event was held this year in Montreal in late June. As host of the 2018 International Congress of Applied Psychology (ICAP), the CPA’s 79th annual meeting and convention was this year integrated in the ICAP 2018 program.

Dr. Blair organized the LGBTQ psychology conference as a pre-conference to ICAP. Some 115 delegates from over 20 countries participated in two full days of programming. Dr. Blair and Rhea Hoskin, an instructor at the StFX Student Success Centre and a PhD candidate at Queen's University, received a $25,000 SSHRC Connection Grant held at StFX to support the event and matching funds were provided by the International Psychology Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Issues (IPsyNet). Much of the funding went towards supporting travel bursaries for international delegates, including delegates coming from as far as Uganda, Chile, South Korea and New Zealand. 

Breanna O’Handley, StFX’s Sexual and Gender Diversity Advisor and a recent StFX graduate, and Ms. Hoskin each presented their research at the pre-conference, as did Dr. Blair’s master’s student, Kay Jenson, from Acadia University. The students had the opportunity to meet and speak with some of the top researchers in the field, including Dr. Sari van Anders, a newly appointed Canada 150 Chair at Queen’s University, who was one of the keynote speakers at the conference. 

L-r, Breanna O’Handley, Daragh McDermott (Anglia Ruskin University, UK), Dr. Karen Blair, Rhea Hoskin, and Kay Jenson (Acadia University) 

L-r, Dr. Margo Watt, Emma Truffyn and Alley Goodreau

Dr. Blair, the program chair, says participating in the conference was invaluable. “This coming winter 2019 semester, I’ll be teaching a 300 level psychology course on LGBTQ psychology (Psyc 386). It is the first time that the course, or anything similar to it, will be offered at StFX and the conference was a great opportunity to learn about the latest advances in the field, which I will be able to now incorporate into the course,” she says. 

“It was such a hit that we are now planning a second conference to take place in July 2020 in Prague.” Dr. Blair and Ms. Hoskin will also be editing a special issue Psychology and Sexuality based on the research presented at the 2018 pre-conference. 

In recognition of the challenges and risks that many LGBTQ researchers face in different parts of the world, conference delegates donated $660 to Rainbow Railroad to help support a fundraiser that StFX student Laura Sevigny started last fall after taking a course with Dr. Blair and learning about the Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian organization helping LGBTQ refugees seek asylum in Canada. 

PROFESSOR HONOURED

A highlight from the conference included Dr. Margo Watt receiving the John C. Service Member of the Year Award, which was presented this year to members of the Task Force on Criminal Justice, of which Dr. Watt is a member.

Dr. Watt also delivered the section keynote for the Criminal Justice Psychology Section. Her talk was entitled, “Fitness to Stand Trial and Criminal Responsibility Assessments in Canada: Improving Access to Qualified Mental Health Professionals.”

Several of Dr. Watt’s students also presented their research during the convention. 

Emma Truffyn, a 2018 StFX graduate who is starting a graduate program in counselling psychology at Western University this fall, one of Canada’s top psychology graduate programs, presented her thesis research as a poster, “An Investigation of Anxiety in Dental Services.” 

Fourth year honours student Jessie Doyle presented a poster, “Anxiety, Sensitivity and Mindfulness As Mediators of Relations Between Attachment and Cluster B Personality Traits,” and Alley Goodreau presented a poster on research from Dr. Watt’s lab, “The Mental Health of University Student Athletes.”   

Dr. Blair also presented a section chair address during the main conference as chair of the CPA’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity section (When Everything is Your Topic: A Peek into a Program of Research Focused on LGBTQ2S+ Psychology) and Ms. Hoskin gave two more presentations during this part of the conference. 

 

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