CPA’s 2021 National Annual Convention

The CPA has continued to monitor the ongoing issues related to the COVID-19 situation in Canada and abroad, inclusive of federal and provincial government decisions taken in the service of community safety.  Experts and all levels of government continue to warn or advise about the greater transmission risks posed by large gatherings of people.

While we do not know for how long COVID-19 will remain a public health emergency in Canada, we do know that at this time, restrictions continue to exist regarding in-person gatherings of more than 50 attendees, where proper physical distancing measures would be difficult to implement and maintain.  Accordingly, the CPA has taken the decision to cancel our in-person 82nd CPA Annual National Convention in Ottawa, ON, scheduled for June 4-6, 2021, inclusive of all pre-convention workshops that would occur on June 3rd and pivot, once again, to a virtual event over the month of June.

We have made this decision based on the guidance and directives of experts and governments, and out of concern for the safety and well-being of our members and affiliates, attendees, staff, public and the various teams that support the annual convention. With the benefit of time to plan, we are excited and confident in our ability to plan a fabulous virtual event.

In accordance with our by-laws, the CPA will convene its Annual General Meeting (AGM) virtually in June; more details will follow in the months ahead.

We will open the abstract submission system for the CPA2021 Convention by the end of October.  We hope that you will consider submitting to and participating in our virtual event; it will feature familiar presentation types as well as some new formats that align with a virtual offering.

We appreciate your understanding and flexibility as we remain responsive to the ongoing situation that COVID-19 presents, while continuing to serve our members and affiliates, and the broader community of psychological scientists, practitioners and/or educators.

We recognize and appreciate that you are likely experiencing upheaval and disruption in your daily life, both personally and professionally. We continue to wish you strength and patience, both personally and professionally, as you cope with the ongoing pandemic and look forward to “seeing” you at our virtual event.

If you have any questions or want further information, please contact the CPA at

Take good care and be well.
CPA Convention Department

Spotlight: Mentorship Program creator Zarina Giannone

Zarina in the House of Commons

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
– unknown

Zarina Giannone lives by the principle of creating, grasping, and making the most of every opportunity she can. When I spoke with her, we attributed this quote to Winston Churchill – almost everyone does. On further investigation, however, there is no evidence that Churchill ever said this. The earliest known utterance of a similar sentiment was by the Mayor of Carlisle, Bertram Carr, in 1919, as he addressed the Fifty-First Annual Cooperative Congress in the middle of a global pandemic.

The provenance of the quote is, of course, immaterial. It is quite likely that this was a saying that circulated England for many years before being transcribed from Bertram’s speech. I just happen to be the person who has the time to look up such things as the provenance of quotes. Zarina Giannone is not that person – she is too busy seizing real opportunities.

One of those opportunities was her election to the CPA Board of Directors as the Student Representative. Zarina had been a student rep, and from there took on role after role until finally making this step in the first year of her Master’s. She says of her three year term on the CPA Board,

“Seriously, it goes down in the books as the most important part of my training to date. Even counting my seven years of graduate school, the experience [of sitting on the Board] was the most valuable to me. Because of the people I met and learned from, but also just to see the system, how it works across the country. After my term ended on the board, I was elected to the BC Psychological Association Board, where I’ve just now come to the end of my three-year term. I’m now a senior student, and with the experience I had with the CPA Board, I have a lot more to contribute.”

There are many important parts of Zarina’s training, not all of them academic. For many years, she was an elite-level soccer player, going to UBC on an athletic scholarship and playing for the Thunderbirds for the duration of that scholarship. In fact, she focused so much on soccer at that time that she neglected her studies a little bit – it was her boyfriend at the time (now fiancé – more on that later) who encouraged her to dive more heavily into her studies, and her love for the field of psychology took off from there.

Zarina’s experiences as a high-performance athlete come in to play all the time for her now, as she works with sports teams as a mental performance consultant. In her job at the Vancouver Psychology Centre, she provides two different services, broadly speaking. One is performance related – how do you achieve peak performance, how do you get around barriers like choking or performance anxiety. The other is on the clinical side, where she deals with clinical psychological issues in sports. These might be anxiety-related, depressive symptoms, trauma-related challenges, disordered eating, and that kind of thing.

All these things – soccer, scholarships, the CPA Student Rep Program, the Student Section, the Boards, the job at Vancouver Psychology Centre, are opportunities Zarina has seized when they presented themselves. But she is also, by nature, a creator of opportunity as well. In 2015, she was learning about the systems-level approach to education and psychology from her position on the CPA Board of Directors, and also representing students on the section level as the Chair of the Student Executive.


What is the psychological concept (bystander apathy, confirmation bias, that sort of thing) that blew you away when you first heard it?
There are so many… psychology is so rich with little tidbits that are mind-boggling, and I’m always impressed with something new. One specific thing might be attribution error. It’s peoples’ tendency to underemphasize situational factors when explaining other peoples’ behaviour, and to over-emphasize personality-based factors or dispositional factors to explain behaviour. The more I work with clients, the more I see that error happening. People attribute the behaviour of other people to being a bad person, or a mean person, versus something that was happening for or to that person in their own context.

Do you have a sport that you like to watch or play, and what is it?
I got into soccer very early, before I was 5. I played with an older age group, went into the provincial program and then into the youth National program. I got recruited to UBC on scholarship in Grade 12, and played out my scholarship at UBC. I also got a chance to play one season at Cardiff University in the UK. After I came back, I took up boxing and suffered a back strain, and so that changed things a lot – I play just for fun at this point, I like the co-ed leagues where I can push the guys around. Soccer still holds a huge place in my heart, and I love watching international tournaments whenever they happen. Go Italia!

You can listen to only one musical artist/group for the rest of your life. Who is it?
This one’s a bit embarrassing… one of my favourites is Sean Paul. He was really big when I was back in high school. I don’t care where I am, when I hear a Sean Paul song it puts me in a good mood and takes me back. If I could have anyone perform at my wedding, it would be Sean Paul.

If you could spend a day in someone else’s shoes who would it be and why
One of my role models, and a person that’s so interesting to me, is Michael Jordan. I’ve always been a huge fan, and I think he is a textbook case study of drive and competitiveness, and obviously his track record of being the best player of all time. I’d love to spend a day in his brain to see how he does it. And I think if we could take a little of that and spread it throughout sports, then sports might change a lot.

If you could become an expert at something outside psychology, what would it be?
I attribute this to my experiences being on the boards I’ve served on. I think it’s in politics. We want so badly to effect change within our field of psychology and we do – at the individual, group, and sometimes organizational level. But to be able to have that kind of impact on a systems level, on a larger scale, I would love to be able to effect change in that way. To really represent and advocate and be involved in changes that I see as important.

She noted issues and challenges that she had experienced as a student – having to be really resourceful throughout the various steps of her training, and not having enough information available and accessible to her. Out of this need, the Student Mentorship Program was born. Zarina realized that connecting students with one another across the country could alleviate some of these stresses for students just starting out, by pairing them with older students who had gone through the same process and could direct them in constructive ways.

Mentors are graduate-level students, while mentees are undergrads or early graduate level students. Most psychology students, by virtue of the fact that they are taking similar courses in similar subjects and following similar career paths, have a lot in common. They share a career passion and a course load, for example. But Zarina thought there could be more to the mentor-mentee relationship than simply subject matter.

When students signed up to be on either side of this partnership, they would fill out forms. What area are you hoping to go into? What are some of your interests? What would you like to get out of the mentoring relationship? Once those questions had been answered, Zarina and her colleagues from the Student Section Executive would match mentors and mentees based on shared goals, interests, and other commonalities. Kind of like a matchmaking service, in a non-romantic sense. And one that proved to be a little bit COVID-proof, since students were connecting virtually with mentors from universities all across Canada for the program.

Not all things, however, are COVID-proof, and not all things are non-romantic. Though Zarina says she hasn’t had too many problems with school, or work, since the pandemic began, one big thing remains undone. Remember that boyfriend, now fiancé, who encouraged her to get more into psychology? She was scheduled to marry him in Mexico, in November.

Even the most prepared among us, those accustomed to turning every difficulty into an opportunity, are sometimes confronted by a disappointment beyond our control. It is in this case that Zarina sees that one opportunity that exists in all circumstances – the opportunity to learn something.

“We’re going to postpone it, and hopefully have it in November of next year. Or…whenever it’s possible. We’ll figure it out, we’ll work through it, we’ll learn. I think it’s such a privilege that our whole lives we can be learning. I’m always reminded of the things I don’t know. On his death bed Michelangelo was in the middle of painting a fresco, and he told someone near him ‘ancora imparo’. ‘I’m still learning’. That’s kind of my attitude too.”

Zarina is far from the end of her days, as she is just starting her career in psychology, has just finished her PhD, and is about to start life as a married person. That leaves a lot of life, and a lot of learning, to do. And Zarina is on her way to experiencing it all.

Postscript: Michelangelo really did say ‘ancora imparo’ on his death bed, that quote checks out.

CPA/CSBBCS Virtual Career Fair

The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), in collaboration with the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science (CSBBCS), is pleased to announce that it will be hosting a Career Fair on November 12th, 2020.  This Fair will mark the first in a series of Career Fairs the CPA will host in 2020 and 2021.

When: Thursday November 12th, 2020 from 12pm – 4pm EST
Where: Virtual
Limited spaces available.
Cost: $10.00

Click here for more information

Audio Update: Dr. Keith Dobson: Carleton University Psychology Mental Health Day

Dr. Keith DobsonOctober 8 is the Carleton University Department of Psychology’s Psychology Mental Health Day. The keynote speaker this year is former CPA President Dr. Keith Dobson. We spoke with Dr. Dobson on the CPA Podcast, so his upcoming appearance (and his upcoming conference call with the World Health Organization) wouldn’t seem so daunting by comparison.

CPA’s 2020 Student Research Grants: Rules and Eligibility Criteria



The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) wishes to support student research in all areas of psychology.

Funding up to $1,500.00 is available per project.  For 2020, a maximum of 10 awards will be dispersed.  Deadline for applications is Friday November 27, 2020 at 4pm EST.

At the time of application and if successful, over the term of the grant, the applicant/grantee must be a graduate student affiliate in good standing of the CPA; enrolled full-time in a psychology graduate program at a provincially or territorially chartered Canadian University. The applicant’s/grantee’s direct supervisor must also be a member in good standing of the CPA.

Students can only be funded once from this funding opportunity.

The adjudication committee will consider the following in evaluating proposals:

  1. Applicant’s Qualifications
    • Scholarships & Awards
    • Publications
    • Conference Presentations & Other Relevant Experience
  2. Merits of Proposal
    • Rationale & Background
    • Feasibility, Design & Methods
    • Potential Impact & Originality


CPA logoCSBBCS logo

One additional award valued at $1,500.00 will be given out to a proposal specific to the Brain and Cognitive Sciences; this award is financially co-sponsored by Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science (CSBBCS).  To apply for this award, a student applicant/grantee and their supervisor must be an affiliate/member in good standing, at the time of application and over the term of the grant (if successful), of either the CPA or the CSBBCS.


Applications must be submitted electronically via this link:

Applications can be submitted in English or in French.

Application requirements include:

  1. An abstract of 250 words or less summarizing the research.
  2. A description (maximum 5 double-spaced pages including references, figures) outlining:
    1. the rationale and background, feasibility, design and methods, potential impact, and originality
  3. Status/proof of REB review process
  4. Specific amount requested, including an itemized budget.
  5. CV of applying student.
  6. A statement from the student’s department chair that the department supports the student’s application and will comply with the CPA’s rules for funds administration if the student’s application is successful. The letter must note that expenditures will only be authorized once REB approval or registration is obtained.  The appropriate University administrator’s name, email address, postal address, title and business phone number should be indicated.

Applications not meeting all of the proposal requirements will not be considered for funding.


For funded projects, the CPA will release funds upon receiving a valid certificate of compliance from the Research Ethics Board (REB) of the applicant’s institution along with confirmation of affiliate status from the CPA’s Membership Department (or the CSBBCS’s Membership Department in the case of the CPA-CSBBCS Joint Award).


Successful applicants will be expected to provide a final (or progress) report to the CPA’s Scientific Affairs Committee ( of the outcome of their research (approximately 500 words) within 18-months of receiving funding. Successful applicants will also be expected to submit a 150-word write up of their research for Psynopsis, the CPA’s quarterly magazine. The CPA should be acknowledged in any publications or presentations resulting from the research.  Unused funds after the defense of the thesis must be returned to the CPA.


  • At the time of application and if successful, over the term of the grant, the applicant/grantee must be a graduate student affiliate in good standing of the CPA (or the CSBBCS in the case of the CPA-CSBBCS Joint Award); enrolled full time in a psychology graduate program at provincially or territorially chartered Canadian University.
  • At the time of application and over the term of the grant (if successful), the applicant’s/grantee’s direct supervisor must also be a member in good standing of the CPA (or the CSBBCS in the case of the CPA-CSBBCS Joint Award)
  • Proposals with co-applicants will not be accepted/considered.
  • Grants are awarded to eligible student researchers and are administered through the institution’s administration systems. The student grantee authorizes expenditures in accordance with the CPA’s policies and requirements, as outlined here, and with institution policies. No one may initiate or authorize expenditures from the CPA grant account without the student grantee’s delegated authority.
  • Grant funds must contribute towards the direct costs of the research for which the funds were awarded, and the benefits should be directly attributable to the grant. The institution pays for the indirect or overhead costs associated with managing the research funded by CPA.
  • Expenditures will only be authorized once Research Ethics Board (REB) approval is obtained.
  • Each institution establishes appropriate procedures, systems and controls to ensure that the CPA’s requirements are followed. The institution has the right and responsibility to withhold and withdraw approval of expenditures proposed by a student grantee that contravene the CPA’s requirements or the institution’s policies and, when appropriate, to seek advice or ruling from the CPA as to eligibility of expenses.
  • The CPA follows the Canadian tax regulation for reporting and as such, will be required to issue a T4A. Please contact the CPA’s Executive Assistant, Kimberley Black via telephone: Local: 613-237-2144, ext. 323; Toll-free : 1-888-472-0657 ext. 323, to provide your Social Insurance Number.


  • Research personnel (e.g., research assistant)
  • Consulting fees (e.g., programmer, statistician)
  • Fees paid for the purpose of participant recruitment, such as modest incentives to consider participation (i.e., to establish a potential participant pool), where approved by a Research Ethics Board
  • Fees paid to research participants, such as modest incentives for participation, where approved by a Research Ethics Board
  • Materials


  • Costs of alcohol
  • Costs of entertainment, hospitality and gifts
  • Travel/registration/accommodation costs related to attending a conference
  • Costs related to staff awards and recognition
  • Education-related costs such as thesis preparation, tuition and course fees, leading up to a degree
  • Costs involved in the preparation of teaching materials
  • Costs of basic services such as heat, light, water, compressed air, distilled water, vacuums and janitorial services supplied to all laboratories in a research facility
  • Insurance costs for buildings or equipment
  • Costs associated with regulatory compliance, including ethical review, biohazard, or provincial or municipal regulations and by-laws
  • Monthly parking fees for vehicles, unless specifically required for field work
  • Sales taxes to which an exemption or rebate applies
  • Costs of regular clothing
  • Patenting expenses
  • Costs of moving a lab


You cans submit your application here:

The CPA’s response to the federal government’s speech from the throne

The CPA applauds the government for recognizing the need to invest in the mental health of the people of Canada in today’s Speech from The Throne. The pandemic, and in particular the necessary way in which we must manage the pandemic, is taking a big toll on our mental health and resilience. The wealth of any country depends in large measure on the mental health and well-being of the people and citizens it serves. While commitment to publicly-funded health care is a core value of this country, Canada has not funded mental health care in parity with physical health care. That must change. Canada needs a health care system that delivers the care people need, where, when and from whom they need it – and includes the evidence-based services of licensed health providers like psychologists, who are trained and licensed to deliver that care. The CPA looks forward to working with the federal government to protect and advance our collective mental health.

Spotlight: CPA Undergraduate Student Rep Angelisa Hatfield

Angelisa Hatfield Vancouver gardenAngelisa Hatfield has been sitting still for an entire hour. She’s on a Zoom call, and stuck outside on her boyfriend’s porch – the result of having a hole in her own room repaired while she temporarily resides five minutes away. I get the sense that sitting in one place for something like a Zoom call is atypical for Angelisa, who is always on the move.

We’re talking about psychology, and the CPA student rep program. Angelisa is just starting her second year as the undergrad student rep at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto. Guelph-Humber does only undergrad programs, so that makes Angelisa one of only two student reps on the campus (the other, Chris Schiafone, is the campus rep).

“It’s a small school, so you get to connect with students a lot more. I’m so involved on campus that everything is kind of intertwined for me now. I did research with the assistant program head in facial recognition, and then working at the front desk at school under the main office’s supervision, working in student services – everything connects so quickly that it kind of blurs the lines between my roles.

For example, I’m now doing CPA events with Career Services, because my career coordinator is so good at planning events, and she has so many ideas, that we thought ‘why not just collaborate – no reason to be doing this separately when we could be doing it together’. So now we’ll do something like a big psychology dinner, bringing the CPA’s connections in with the school’s connections. We’re talking about bringing Addiction Rehab Toronto (more on them later) in for coffee time chats.

Guelph-Humber is one of those communities where there’s a lot of community connection and involvement, and I’ve found myself being the networking tool, especially remotely!”

Before she started her university career in psychology, she considered other fields – she thought about nursing, social work, radiology, cardiology…the list goes on. Basically, she knew she wanted to be in what she calls the ‘helping fields’ – somewhere where she could impact the lives of other people. Psychology seemed like a field where you could learn a LOT of different things, and the inclusion of a co-op program at Guelph-Humber meant she could get hands-on experience helping people. That sealed the deal.

Even now, in the summer months away from school and in the middle of a pandemic, Angelisa is helping people every day. She is a volunteer at Addiction Rehab Toronto (A.R.T.) a private rehab centre in Toronto, and she shows up randomly even when she doesn’t have a volunteer shift. ART is a lot like Angelisa herself, in that it has a wide variety of interests and specialties. It offers a nutrition program, group therapy, CBT and DBT, mindfulness activities, psychotherapists and addiction counselors…the list goes on.

TAKE FIVE with Angelisa Hatfield

What is the psychological concept that blew you away when you first heard it?
For me, it’s the self-fulfilling prophecy. It was a huge realization that our thoughts have more power than we thought they did. And also how when we impose our thoughts on other people sometimes it can influence them too. I’ve thought a lot about how self-fulfilling prophecy interacts with racism. For example if a teacher has an idea about a certain student of a certain race, and thinks they’re going to behave a certain way, then they treat them that way, and that student begins behaving that way. It becomes this cycle that fulfills itself. But you can also use it on the positive side and if you think positively you can bring about positive things in your life and that of others.

Top three websites or apps you could not live without and why
Definitely news apps. I need news. Not knowing what’s going on makes me scared. Also Twitter, that’s the social media I’m on all the time. It’s a place where people can dump their ideas and feelings and people can relate to each other. And it’s funny sometimes to watch people argue while you sit with popcorn. And the last one is Google – I use it all the time, any time I don’t know something we’re Googling it. And it’s something where if you spent two minutes on Google you can spare a lot of time arguing with someone, or saying something ignorant.

Favourite book
It sounds really cliché, but it’s Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It’s a good book and I could really relate to it at the time. It kind of introduced me to mental health in my pre-teen years. And another is It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. Both of these were books that were about mental health that were adapted into movies that I didn’t hate. And they were books that needed to become coming-of-age movies.

If you could spend a day in someone else’s shoes who would it be and why?
I’ve always wanted to be an eagle, or a hummingbird. Just having the ability to fly, and go wherever you want whenever you want and make a home wherever it is you land. I also feel like birds have a sense of community – you hear one bird chirp, and then three others come, and they’re never alone. For me it was always birds. My next tattoo is a bird. The hummingbird reminds me of myself, always zooming around from one thing to another, always with others and arguing and moving. And the eagle reminds me of my heritage. I’m from the Azores, an island off Portugal, and there’s an eagle in our flag.

If you could become an expert at something outside psychology, what would it be?
Everything, ideally. But if I had to pick just one thing, it would probably be architecture. Or home design. Or environmentalism, animals, biology, and how the ecosystem works.

“Addiction is a [field] where you don’t have to choose a specialty. You can learn a little bit of everything. There are people who have all sorts of mental health problems, and all sorts of backgrounds. I was struggling with ‘what do I focus on – just schizophrenia, just PTSD, just eating disorders’ but at an addiction centre you deal with everything because everyone has something. It’s a very diverse place, so it’s a great way to get a lot of perspectives and world views from a wide variety of people.”

Angelisa collects diverse perspectives and world views, and has about as open a mind as anyone I’ve ever met. She recognizes in herself the desire to learn everything she can about every subject she can, and she will move on quickly after learning something to whatever is next. She can’t listen to the same artist twice in a row on her phone’s playlist, and will skip and move on. She identifies with hummingbirds, who aren’t content with sampling just one flower, but who flit from one to the other so they can take in the absolute most that the field has to offer. The only thing consistent in this constant movement is that the learning she does is geared toward just one thing – helping others.

She says that one thing learning psychology has meant for her is that she can no longer get annoyed with other people. Even if they’re behaving in a way that’s injurious to her, or doing something she knows to be wrong, she understands at a base level why they’re behaving that way, and for that reason interpersonal anger is not an option.

In fact, she has a tattoo of a bee – because, she says, ‘even though life stings, bees are necessary’. With that logic, you can’t even be mad at a bee that stings you!

Even COVID is not making Angelisa angry, it’s something that gives her an opportunity to maintain her connections and forge new ones remotely as she plans for the upcoming school year. Where she will continue to volunteer with ART, work in student services, be involved in every aspect of campus life, and get on with being a CPA undergrad student rep. Much like everything else she does, Angelisa thinks of her nomination to be a student rep as a sort of happenstance.

“I got really close with my program head and with Chris (Schiafone, the Campus Rep), and they said I’d be a good fit. [Being an undergrad CPA rep] was something that I just fell into randomly, but I’m glad that I did. It opened up a lot of doors and it let me use my background and skills the way I wanted to. Chris has given me a lot of freedom with it, and let me take it where I want it to go. So it’s been nice.”

For this, her last year at Guelph-Humber, Angelisa will serve as CPA undergraduate rep and complete her bachelor’s degree. After that it’s on to more learning and more schooling. And then? Maybe she’ll continue working in the addiction field, where the variety of the job is appealing. Maybe as a researcher, or a clinician, or something else entirely. Maybe all of it at once.

Along the way she will find time, every now and then, to sit in one place and do one thing for an hour. Even if it’s to get a hummingbird tattoo that matches the bee.

“Psychology Works” Fact Sheet: Schizophrenia

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious disorder that is related to a range of behavioural and thinking problems. Despite common myths, schizophrenia does not refer to ‘multiple personalities’, but rather a loss of contact with reality. The symptoms of schizophrenia are different from person to person, and symptoms, at least in a milder form, tend to last for a long time and long-term treatment is usually necessary. However, there is hope for improvement and a return to normal life for many people. With a combination of medication, psychological therapy, and family/social support, people with schizophrenia can function well in their community.   

What are some of the problems faced by people with schizophrenia?

  • Difficulties with perception of reality, such as hallucinations (for example, seeing or hearing things that are not real), delusions (for example, believing an organization is plotting to harm you; thinking that special messages are contained in advertisements), and bizarre behaviours (for example, peculiar speech). These are the kinds of symptoms that people often think of when they say someone is suffering from a “psychotic episode”. These symptoms are also sometimes called “positive” symptoms, referring to the presence of the unusual sensory experiences that are in excess of typical human experience.  
  • Difficulties with behaviours and emotions, such as reduced experience and expression of emotions, avoiding other people, lack of motivation, and a decrease in amount of speech. These symptoms are sometimes called “negative” symptoms, referring to the reduction or absence of usual social and emotional experiences.
  • Difficulties with thought processes (called cognitive abilities), such as attention, memory, speed of processing information, planning, and problem solving. This means that many daily activities like grocery shopping, learning new skills at work, or following a conversation might be very difficult for people who have schizophrenia.
  • Difficulties with social functioning, such as forming and maintaining relationships, or doing well at school or work. 

Schizophrenia is not the only disorder associated with psychosis. For example, some people may have symptoms of both a mood disorder (like depression or bipolar disorder) and schizophrenia, or others may have just some psychotic symptoms (e.g., hallucinations). Those experiencing psychosis might be at risk for a more severe form of their disorder and should be encouraged to seek mental health treatment.

How common is schizophrenia?

  • Approximately 1% of the world’s population meet the criteria for a diagnosis of schizophrenia
  • Men are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia – the ratio of men to women is 1.4 to 1
  • Symptoms often start in late adolescence or young adulthood, and may occur for many years before diagnosis; on average, men are usually diagnosed at a younger age – 22 years old for men versus 27 years for women

What are the risk factors for schizophrenia?

There are several different causes of schizophrenia, which often act in combination:

  • Heredity– Having a parent, sister, or brother with schizophrenia is a risk factor for developing the disorder. However, this does not mean that one is guaranteed to have schizophrenia, it just increases the likelihood  to a higher degree than people who do not have a family member with this diagnosis.
  • Environment – Many factors unrelated to family history can affect brain development and the risk for schizophrenia. Examples include a mother having a serious illness or a long period of malnutrition while pregnant, low birth weight, oxygen deprivation during birth, and serious illness during early infancy. Additionally, there are experiences in a person’s environment that may increase their likelihood of developing psychotic symptoms (especially if they are already at a higher risk because of hereditary or developmental factors). Examples of this include childhood abuse, war zone exposure, and poverty. 

What psychological treatments are available to help manage schizophrenia?

Historically, treatment took place in large hospitals where patients were completely removed from society. With the use of medications since the 1950’s, many people with schizophrenia are able to live in the community and do not need to be in hospital settings for long periods. While antipsychotic medications can be effective at targeting “positive” symptoms (i.e., hallucinations and delusions), they often have limited effects on “negative” symptoms (i.e., emotional experiences and motivation), and cognitive difficulties. As well, many people have trouble staying on their medication, due to multiple negative side effects. As a result, they are likely to start experiencing symptoms again if they stop their medication.

Research suggests that the most effective treatment plan is a combination of antipsychotic medication and psychological therapies that help people make changes in real-world behaviour. As we develop more effective treatments, people with schizophrenia are better able than ever before to function in society, even though some may continue to have symptoms.   

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)– An active, collaborative type of therapy that focuses on a person’s thoughts and core beliefs, and the behaviours that are related to these thoughts. In CBT-P (a form of CBT for psychosis), a person learns to question and re-evaluate the source and meaning of their hallucinations and delusions. 
  • Cognitive Remediation – Focuses on training people to improve their thinking abilities such as attention, memory, reasoning, and information processing. New problem solving strategies are learned and there is a focus on helping the person be more engaged with cognitively challenging and stimulating tasks in daily life. Therapists play a large role in supporting the development of new skills and strategies as well as addressing negative core beliefs about cognitive abilities. 
  • Family Support– Provides information, support, and new interaction skills to people affected by schizophrenia and their family members, so that the whole family can learn to best manage the disorder.
  • Social Skills Training– Focuses on teaching people more adaptive skills to use in interpersonal relationships, and allows practice of these skills in a group, and in one’s daily life. 

An important note on stigma

Schizophrenia is often misunderstood by the public. The disorder often receives media attention, but, as with many news stories related to mental illness, many facts are taken out of context for entertainment or shock value. In particular, popular stories and media reports about people with schizophrenia sometimes make it seem like these individuals are dangerous or violent. In fact, people with schizophrenia are generally not dangerous, and usually pose a higher risk of harm to themselves (due to suicide) than to other people. As well, people with a psychotic disorder are more likely to be victims of violent crime than to be violent.  

Where can I get more information?

  • Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Patients, and Providers– by Torrey
  • The Family Intervention Guide to Mental Illness: Recognizing Symptoms and Getting Treatment– by Mueser & Morey
  • Schizophrenia Society of Canada: 
  • Canadian Mental Health Association:  

You can consult with a registered psychologist to find out if psychological interventions might be of help to you. Provincial, territorial and some municipal associations of psychology often maintain referral services. For the names and coordinates of provincial and territorial associations of psychology, go to

This fact sheet has been prepared for the Canadian Psychological Association by Dr.. Katherine Holshausen, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, & Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neuroscience, McMaster University and Dr. Christopher R. Bowie, Head’s Up Early Psychosis Intervention Program – Kingston, & Department of Psychology, Queen’s University. 

Revised: May 2020

Your opinion matters! Please contact us with any questions or comments about any of the Psychology Works Fact Sheets:

Canadian Psychological Association
141 Laurier Avenue West, Suite 702
Ottawa, Ontario    K1P 5J3
Tel:  613-237-2144
Toll free (in Canada):  1-888-472-0657

“Psychology Works” Fact Sheet: Suicide

What Every Canadian Needs to Know about Suicide

Some Facts.  Although death by suicide is relatively uncommon, on average there are more than 10 deaths by suicide daily in Canada.  Thinking about suicide and engaging in self-harm and in suicidal behaviour are much more common.  When feeling overwhelmed or in psychological pain, people might contemplate suicide to varying degrees.  Sometimes people have passive suicidal thoughts such as wishing they wouldn’t wake up in the morning or wishing something fatal would happen.  Sometimes suicidal thoughts are more active, and people think about how to actively end their lives.  Although having suicidal thoughts does not necessarily mean that someone is on the verge of killing themselves, both active and passive thoughts need to be taken seriously because they suggest that something is not right at that moment in the person’s life.  Approximately 4,000 people die by suicide in Canada each year[i].  This figure may be an underestimation since death by suicide may be misclassified[ii] as an unintentional injury or as the result of a chronic health condition. In addition, this figure does not include the deaths of people who are terminally ill and obtain medical assistance in dying (MAiD).

Risk for death by suicide differs by as age (older), sex (male) and cultural group.  Three-quarters of those who die by suicide are men.  Most men and women who die by suicide are middle-aged.  Middle-aged and older men have Canada’s highest rates of suicide.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 34[iii].     Suicide rates do not take into account non-fatal suicidal behaviour; statistics estimate that suicide attempts outnumber deaths by suicide by somewhere between 10 and 20:1[iv]

Who is at risk for suicide?  There are many factors that contribute to suicide.  Commonly, people who think about or die by suicide may feel overwhelmed with psychological pain[v], which can be experienced as hopelessness, helplessness, loneliness sadness, anger, guilt or shame, or meaninglessness[vi].  Past behaviour tends to predict future behaviour; one of the strongest risk factors for death by suicide is having tried to end one’s life in the past. Studies show that suicide tends to be more common among people with one or more mental disorders, primarily mood disorders (like Major Depressive Disorder or Bipolar Disorder), psychotic disorders (like Schizophrenia), a substance use disorder, and personality disorders[vii]. Suicide risk may be elevated among people in pain and whose chronic illnesses restrict their daily functioning[viii], although this typically occurs when a mood or other mental disorder is also present.  It has been estimated that about 90% of those who die by suicide have a mental disorder, but most people with mental disorders do not die by suicide.[ix]  Additionally, although depression and suicide risk often go hand in hand, not everyone who dies by suicide is depressed, and not everyone who is depressed thinks about suicide. Nevertheless, when someone is depressed, it is important to find out if they are having suicidal thoughts. To find out more about mental disorders go to

What are some of the signs to look for if you are concerned that someone is considering suicide?  Specific signs of suicide risk include talking about suicide and death, talking about or collecting implements for self-harm or for suicide, preparing for death by writing a will or giving away prized personal possessions, previous suicide attempts, and recent experience or anticipation of serious personal losses. Some of the other signs that someone might be considering suicide are similar to signs of depression.  These include changes in eating or sleeping habits, withdrawal from others, extreme emotional changes, a blunting of emotional expression or loss of interest in usual activities particularly those usually enjoyed, and neglect of personal appearance.  There can also be increased use of alcohol or other drugs and increase in strange or risky behaviours.  As mentioned, although depression is a risk factor for suicide, the majority of people with depression do not die by suicide. Sometimes people are most at-risk for suicide when their depression lessens, and they appear to be doing better.  Suicide risk can be extremely high when someone is initially emerging from an episode of depression, especially if their energy returns but their thoughts of suicide remain strong. Some people are quite good at presenting themselves as being well put together even when they are not; support and the opportunity to explore their thoughts and feelings about life can be critical.

How do talk to someone about suicide?  Asking a person about suicide will not make them suicidal.  It is best to come right out and say that you have noticed some changes or signs that they may be hurting or in need of help, that you are worried or concerned and that you want to help.  If the person admits to feeling sad or hopeless, ask directly if they have thought about hurting or killing themselves.  Listen, don’t judge, and don’t try to solve their problems.  You may not understand how or why someone feels the way they do but accept that they are in pain and in need of help.  Don’t try to convince them that their way of seeing the world, or the actions they are considering, are bad or wrong.  If someone is thinking about suicide and discloses it to you, never promise to keep this information confidential.  A person feeling suicidal is a person who needs help and you may need to talk to others to help them get it[x].

How do I get help if I or a loved one is thinking about suicide?  There are supports and services that are effective in helping people deal with their psychological distress and recover from mental disorders.  Helping someone in need get help can be very important since less than half of people who have psychological problems actually get the help they need. Sometimes it is the stigma of mental disorders that gets in the way of people asking for and receiving help.  Mental healthcare services are not always funded by public health insurance, which can also make it harder for people to get the help that they need.  Keep in mind that helping loved ones doesn’t mean you can or should solve their problems, treat their illness or take away their pain.  Helping doesn’t mean that you should assume personal responsibility for someone else’s safety or for stopping their suicidal thoughts or actions.  It means listening, caring, supporting, and helping the person get the professional mental health help they need, when and where they need it.  It may also mean advocating for them. Navigating a complex health system can be daunting, especially when someone is in distress.  Helping to make calls and appointments, and acting as their advocate, can be very important to getting someone help in a timely manner. 

Where do I turn if the situation is urgent? Thinking about suicide can be a health emergency and needs to be treated the same way as any other crisis.  Don’t assume that people who think about or talk about suicide are not serious, are being dramatic, or that their suicidal thoughts will simply go away on their own – they often don’t.  This is no time for “cautious waiting.” If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, cannot make the thoughts go away, feels like acting on the thoughts, have a plan for how to die by suicide, or have access to the means with which to end life, you need to get help immediately!  Call 911, go to the nearest hospital emergency room or urgent care clinic, or call a crisis line or distress centre.  Crisis Services Canada can be reached at 1-833-456-4566.  The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention has a directory of crisis lines across Canada

Where can I get mental health help? If the situation isn’t urgent but you or the person you are concerned about is distressed, help is available.  Research shows that psychological treatments are effective for mental disorders and can reduce or resolve thoughts of suicide, or prevent suicide behaviour.  Provincial and territorial associations of psychology maintain referral services so that you can find a psychologist in your area   To find out what to expect when seeing a psychologist, see

Other avenues to get help include bringing your concerns to your family physician, primary health care team or community health centre. Some primary health providers like family physicians may be able to offer help directly or refer you to a health care provider or program that specializes in mental health treatment.  If the person in crisis is a student, the school or university may have mental health providers on staff.  The Canadian Mental Health Association can also be a helpful source of information and support. When choosing mental health help, it is always a good idea to seek the services of a regulated and specialized mental health care provider (like a psychologist or psychiatrist) to make sure that mental health problems are accurately assessed and diagnosed.  Not all mental health issues, disorders or treatments are the same.  Not all healthcare providers have expertise in assessing and treating mental disorders.  An accurate assessment and diagnosis is critical to making sure that you receive the right care.

Additional resources include:


Mental Health Commission of Canada

Indigenous Services Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada

Mood Disorders Society of Canada (MDSC)

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) 
Video: Let’s Talk about Suicide —

The Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health (CCSMH)

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)

The Centre for Suicide Prevention


Suicide Prevention Resource Center

The American Association of Suicidology (AAS)

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)

The American Psychological Association (APA)  

U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)


The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP)

The World Health Organization (WHO)


Where can I get more information?

Provincial associations of psychology:

Psychology Foundation of Canada:  

American Psychological Association (APA):

You can consult with a registered psychologist to find out if psychological interventions might be of help to you. Provincial, territorial, and some municipal associations of psychology often maintain referral services. For the names and coordinates of provincial and territorial associations of psychology, please visit: 

This fact sheet has been prepared for the Canadian Psychological Association by Dr. Karen R. Cohen (Canadian Psychological Association) and Dr. Marnin J. Heisel (Western University)

March 2020

Your opinion matters! Please contact us with any questions or comments about any of the Psychology Works Fact Sheets:

Canadian Psychological Association
141 Laurier Avenue West, Suite 702
Ottawa, Ontario    K1P 5J3
Tel:  613-237-2144
Toll free (in Canada):  1-888-472-0657




[v] Shneidman, E.S. (1993).  Suicide as psychache (commentary). The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 181 (3), 145-147.


[vii] Bertolote JM, Fleischmann A, De Leo D, Wasserman D. Psychiatric diagnoses and suicide: revisiting the evidence. Crisis. 2004; (25(4): 147-155.

[viii] Kaplan, M.S., McFarland, B. H., Huguet, M.S., & Newsom, J.T. (2007).  Physical Illness, Functional Limitations, and Suicide Risk:  A Population-Based Study.  American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.  77(1), 56-60.


[x] More information about suicide prevention and about talking about suicide can be found at


“Psychology Works” Fact Sheet: Perfectionism

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a multidimensional personality style that is associated with a large number of psychological, interpersonal, and achievement-related difficulties.

It is not a disorder but a vulnerability factor that produces problems for children, adolescents, and adults. People often confuse perfectionism with achievement striving or conscientiousness.

Perfectionism is distinct from these attitudes. It is a maladaptive pattern of behaviours that can result in a large number of problems. Achievement striving and conscientiousness involve appropriate and tangible expectations (often very difficult but attainable goals) and produce a sense of satisfaction and rewards.

Perfectionism, on the other hand, involves inappropriate levels of expectations and intangible goals (i.e. perfection) and a constant lack of satisfaction, irrespective of performance.

Perfectionism is a chronic source of stress, often leaving people feeling like failures even when other people see them as successful. Perfectionistic individuals require themselves to be perfect. This constant expectation is a source of stress and pressure and contributes to maladaptive ways of coping.

Dimensions of Perfectionism

Perfectionism involves three major components: perfectionism traits, perfectionistic interpersonal behaviours and perfectionistic thoughts concerning mistakes, expectations, failures, and self-criticism.

Perfectionism traits are enduring personality characteristics that reflect the need to be perfect:

  • Self-oriented perfectionism is the requirement for the self to be perfect.
  • Other-oriented perfectionism is the requirement that others (e.g., spouse, children, and other people in general) should be perfect.
  • Socially prescribed perfectionism is the perception that others (e.g., parents, boss, and other people in general) require oneself to be perfect.

Perfectionistic behaviours involve the need to appear or seem perfect to others:

  • Perfectionistic self-promotion involves the presentation of a perfect self-image to others.
  • Nondisplay of imperfection involves the avoidance or concealment of any behaviour that could be judged by others as imperfect.
  • Nondisclosure of imperfection involves the avoidance of verbally disclosing imperfections to others.

Finally, individuals with perfectionism will often engage in negative thoughts centered around the need to be or appear perfect and with harsh self-criticism, worry over errors, and self-blame.

Problems associated with Perfectionism

Individuals with these perfectionistic traits, behaviours and thoughts can experience a variety of negative outcomes. These problems can be found with perfectionistic children, adolescents, and adults. Here are some problems that have been found to be associated with perfectionism:

Psychological/Psychiatric Problems

  • Anorexia nervosa, anxiety, binge eating and bulimic disorders, depression, suicide thoughts and attempts.

Relationship Problems

  • Low self-compassion and the tendency to feel responsible for fulfilling others’ needs at the expense of one’s own, poor marital satisfaction, sexual dissatisfaction, and excessive anger towards others, social disconnection, difficulties with intimacy, loneliness, and social hopelessness (i.e. having negative expectations concerning future relationships).

Physical Health Problems

  • Prolonged elevations in stress responses, sleep problems, chronic headaches, cardio-vascular responses, and early death.

Achievement Problems

  • Workaholism, burnout, fear of failure, procrastination and self-handicapping (i.e. where individuals spend time finding excuses for poor performance rather than preparing for a performance).

Treatment Problems

  • Negative attitudes toward seeking help with professionals, difficulties in self-disclosing personal information which negatively impacts treatment, not being able to engage in treatment.

How can psychology help?

Because perfectionism is an ingrained personality style, psychotherapy is very appropriate and often tends to be fairly intensive and longer term (often more than a year).

Recent research has demonstrated the effectiveness of both group and individual therapy for treating perfectionism and its associated complications. There has been promising evidence for dynamic-relational group therapy, psychodynamic/interpersonal group therapy and cognitive-behavioural group and individual therapy in reducing perfectionism and its attendant difficulties.

Several Canadian studies are currently underway that focus on both fine-tuning current treatment approaches and evaluating the effectiveness of these treatments in children, adolescents and adults.

Where do I go for more information on Perfectionism?

For more information visit the following:

  • The Perfectionism and Psychopathology Lab at Hewitt Lab FAQs –
  • Hewitt, P. L., Flett, G. L., & Mikail, S. F. (2017) Perfectionism: A relational approach to conceptualization, assessment, and treatment. New York: Guilford
  • Greenspon, T. (2002) Feeing our families from perfectionism. Minneapolis: Free Spirit.
  • Egan, Sarah J., Tracey D. Wade, Roz Shafran, and Martin M. Antony. Cognitive-behavioral treatment of perfectionism. Guilford Publications, 2016.

You can consult with a registered psychologist to find out if psychological interventions might be of help to you. Provincial, territorial and some municipal associations of psychology often maintain referral services. For the names and coordinates of provincial and territorial associations of psychology, go to

This fact sheet has been prepared for the Canadian Psychological Association by Dr. Paul L. Hewitt, Ms. Sabrina Ge from the University of British Columbia and Dr. Gordon L. Flett, York University.

Revised: March 2020

Your opinion matters! Please contact us with any questions or comments about any of the Psychology Works Fact Sheets:

Canadian Psychological Association
141 Laurier Avenue West, Suite 702
Ottawa, Ontario    K1P 5J3
Tel:  613-237-2144
Toll free (in Canada):  1-888-472-0657

Spotlight: CPA Graduate Student Affairs Officer Melissa Mueller

“You’ll never be more than a 70s student.”
Some Grade 12 math teacher in Calgary, one time

Melissa Mueller boxingMelissa Mueller is a fighter. Figuratively speaking, that is, in that she’s determined and focused. In Grade 10, a friend mentioned in passing that she was able to talk to Melissa about her problems without fear of everyone else finding out. She decided at that moment, in Grade TEN, she would become a psychologist. Two years later, her Grade 12 math teacher told her she’d never get better marks than 70s. She determined then and there that her goal would be to obtain a PhD. She’s currently a few steps away from obtaining a PhD in psychology.

Melissa is also a fighter – literally. She is a boxer, and trains at a local gym in Calgary (Rumble) when she’s not at school. “It’s a way to blow off some steam”, she says – and as busy as Melissa is, it’s important to make time for self-care and relieve the pressures of school, practicums, COVID, and everything else.

As it has for almost all of us, COVID has created some stress for Melissa. As she returns to the University of Calgary in the fall, all her classes are now online. But as a TA, she does have to go to the campus to teach a lab. As a school and applied child psychology student, any practicum that she does will likely be in a school setting as schools re-open with a lot of uncertainty. And as the CPA Graduate Student Affairs Officer, the process of recruitment, retention, and communication with Graduate Student Representatives across Canada has changed a good deal as well.

TAKE FIVE with Melissa Mueller

What is the psychological concept that blew you away when you first heard it?
Something I found out while learning about CBT – which is the way we can separate thought from emotion… that you can change the way you think about things which can change the way you feel about them which can in turn change your behaviour.

You can listen to only one musical artist/group for the rest of your life. Who is it?
Noah Schnacky, a country singer I discovered on TikTok. He’s quite young, so he’ll be building a catalogue for many years and I can hear all the new stuff that way!

Favourite book
Anything by Nicholas Sparks. I think my current favourite is Safe Haven.

Favourite word
“Gregarious”. I had to learn it while studying for the GRE, and I think it sounds amazing.

If you could become an expert at something outside psychology, what would it be?
Interior design. Right now I go to Pinterest for all my ideas, but it would be pretty cool to be able to create spaces with the knowledge and intention to facilitate a certain atmosphere or “feel.”

She always struggled with math in high school. Trying to keep numbers in her head while doing a calculation was not her strong suit, and she would get confused and mess up even relatively easy equations. What turned things around for her was a pretty simple accommodation. At some point in math class, as you start to do more advanced things like algebra, calculus, and trigonometry – they let you have a calculator. Now Melissa no longer had to keep all those numbers in her head, and she could focus on the important stuff – the actual math problems.

It was struggles (and solutions) like these in school that led Melissa down her current path. She is in the School and Child Psychology program, because she knows that all children learn things a little differently. She can empathize with them and wants nothing more than to help them overcome similar struggles to those she herself had when she was younger.

Melissa’s last practicum was at a school for kids with severe disabilities. There were many specialists who worked there, in a holistic environment that took into account the idea than few disabilities exist in a vacuum, and there is often correlation between difficulties. For this reason, the school employed psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists among others.

This is one of two dream scenarios for Melissa post-graduation. She wants to work in a school with an interdisciplinary team – and also run a private practice where she has more direct personal control over direction, treatment, and outcomes. It seems very likely she will end up doing both, and few people are likely to dissuade her. Or maybe somebody will tell her she can’t do both – which will all but guarantee that she will.

Reconsolidation Therapy™ (Brunet Method™): Foundational Elements and Clinical Practice

December 10-12, 2020

Les Consultants Alain Brunet et Associés

Location: Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre
Contact Phone Number: (514) 370-8992
Contact E-Mail:
Event Link:

Based on recent discoveries in neuroscience, Reconsolidation Therapy™ has been scientifically proven to be an effective treatment for psychotrauma. This method combines the intake of a pharmacological agent with brief psychotherapy. Reconsolidation Therapy™ provides a simple, fast, and effective method to reduce the strength of emotional memories for victims who have experienced various degrees of trauma. 

Here is your opportunity to get trained in Reconsolidation Therapy™! The training will take place in-person in Ottawa. Reconsolidation Therapy can be practiced online or face to face. 

Training Format and Schedule:

The training will take place at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre (1145 Carling Ave, Ottawa, ON K1Z 7K4).

Duration: 2.5 days

Schedule (Time Zone: Montreal, Quebec, Canada – EST): Day 1 & 2 – 9h30 AM – 5h30 PM – Day 3 – 9h30 AM – 1h00 PM 

This training will be given in the English language, and it will provide you with the necessary knowledge needed to practice Reconsolidation Therapy. During the training, you will learn how to use the therapeutic protocol, which will allow you to effectively treat people suffering from post-traumatic stress. 


  • Differentiate between the various stress and trauma-related disorders 
  • Understand the theory of reconsolidation 
  • Learn about the studies supporting Reconsolidation Therapy 

This training is conducted at an intermediate level. It is offered to all mental health professionals who have a post-graduate university degree and are legally qualified to practice psychotherapy, as well as to therapists practicing alternative techniques that are recognized. 

For more information or to reserve your spot in the next training session, please visit our website.

Spotlight: CPA Undergraduate Student Affairs Officer Nicole Boles

“If you could walk in someone else’s shoes for just one day, who would it be?”

“It would have to be a famous and brilliant mathematician like Nicolas Copernicus, because my brain seems to shut down whenever I’m given a task involving any sort of math. So I feel like being able to switch brains with a mathematician and seeing what happens in their head would be quite interesting.”

It’s not random that Nicole Boles chose Nicolas Copernicus, of all the famous mathematicians. Copernicus was the mathematician and astronomer who, in the Renaissance era, proposed a model of the universe that had the sun at the centre of it, rather than the Earth. He had, one can assume, a very interesting head in which a psychologist could spend a day. He was also Polish.

Nicole Boles dancingNicole is very much connected to her Polish heritage. She still speaks Polish, although she says it’s getting a little rusty and she needs to keep it up so as not to lose it. She has deep connections with the Polish community in Calgary, and at the University of Calgary where she studies. And she’s actually been to Poland, traveling there with friends as part of a Polish folk dancing group. She was part of that group until her third year of university, when she found her specific passion, and quit to focus on her studies.

Now a fifth-year student at the University of Calgary, Nicole is going to apply to graduate schools throughout the year, with an eye toward studying speech and language pathology. She is also working as a literacy instructor by following a one on one literacy program aiming at strengthening children’s oral and written language skills. This was the passion she discovered in third year, and she is heading in a straight line toward the ultimate goal – working with children to help them with speech, language, and communication.

Nicole is also the Undergraduate Student Affairs Officer for the Canadian Psychological Association. That means she manages the student representative program. Recruiting members and prospective applicants, ensuring constant communication with those members, applicants, and current representatives. Nicole also collects and distributes reports from each campus.

TAKE FIVE with Nicole Boles

What is the psychological concept that blew you away when you first heard it?
A recent one is the Whorfian hypothesis. This is, basically, the idea that language influences thought in a certain way. People who speak different languages will construe reality in different ways. For example, Russian speakers divide light and dark blues. That is, they have a term for light blue and another term for dark blue. And research has shown that they can distinguish between these two colours at a faster rate than English speakers. The difference is not that English speakers are unable to distinguish between light blue and dark blue, but that Russian speakers are unable to avoid making that distinction.

You can listen to only one musical artist/group for the rest of your life. Who is it?
I grew up listening to Fleetwood Mac, and that would have to be it. And the catalogue would be a lot wider if I can throw in the spinoffs – Steve Nicks solo, the Buckingham-McVie stuff. I actually attended Fleetwood Mac’s final concert, which was very special.

Top three websites or apps you could not live without and why
My camera app. Also Apple Notes, because I always need to write down everything and I need it to be in once place or else I’ll inevitably forget or lose it. And…does the phone app itself count as an app on a phone? Like making phone calls? I need that one too.

Favourite book
My favourite book, hands down, is Kids These Days. It’s a game-changing book by a clinical psychologist named Dr. Jody Carrington. She offers strategies to educators, teachers, bus drivers, etcetera to re-connect with “kids these days”. I work with children, so I could really empathize with certain aspects of this book, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who works with kids or has worked with kids in the past.

Favourite quote
“If you want something done right, ask a busy person.” I feel like there’s nothing truer than that.

“I wasn’t really aware that CPA even existed until [that] third year as a university student. At that point I was now involved in research, and I had found my specialization, and I got a job related to it. At that time I became a little more involved with the psychology association on my campus, and they brought up CPA. It was super-cool to see that there’s this higher-level association working to promote psychology. I knew I was going to want to be more involved.”

Fortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has not affected her duties as the Undergrad Officer very much – a lot of the job is sending and receiving emails from all over Canada, and very little of the job in the past has been done in person. It’s the school year itself that might be a little more tumultuous, as Nicole will be taking her fifth year entirely online. She realizes that she’ll have to adapt her learning style a little bit, to become more of a self-directed learner than she has been up to this point.

That includes the more difficult assignments and research projects – the ones involving math. Though she may struggle with math, Nicole is driven and ambitious and has a goal in mind. I get the sense that could she actually live for a day in the head of Copernicus, she would emerge a competent, if not a brilliant, mathematician herself.

For the time being though, Nicole is going to struggle through math, adjust to full-time online learning, and complete her fifth year at the University of Calgary. She’s also going to spend the next two years as the Undergraduate Student Affairs Officer at the CPA, helping undergrads navigate this brand new world in which they find themselves.

“I really like working for an organization that allows you to work closely with professionals in the field, and I really want to reach out to undergrads, so I’m looking forward to that. I know that for me personally it was a bit of a struggle transitioning from high school to university, and I’m sure that’s a hurdle that many students face. So I feel pretty proud to be part of CPA, because they strive to make students feel more at ease, more confident, and more supported.”

Nicole is certainly at ease when we speak, and she is confident in her abilities and in her chosen career path. It’s a straight line toward the future, helping children with speech and language difficulties. And it’s also a straight line from the past, a past which Nicole is intentionally bringing along with her. One day, she will be helping with communication in both English and French. And who knows? Perhaps in Polish as well.

Alcohol, Other Drugs & Mental Health (Dual Diagnosis) Training ONLINE & Live (12 Hr Advanced)

July 13, July 14, November 16, or November 17, 2020

Dual Diagnostic Training

Location: Online 24/7 (Australia)
Phone: +61 408 332 765

Cost of Dual Diagnosis Training is reduced from $390 to $195 (50% off). Buy ONLINE program for $195, get LIVE free or Buy LIVE program for $195, get ONLINE free.
George Patriki provides both LIVE and ONLINE training & professional development for the health care, welfare and social service industries on the Gold Coast, throughout Australia and the globe…

Click here to register and pay for the LIVE or ONLINE training

Certificate of attendance and qualification for 12 points (ONLINE) or up to 15 points (Live) of CPD (Continuing Professional Development) for your professional peak body (APS, ACA, AASW, CPA, PACFA, ACWA etc), requires completion of the full 2 days of intensive training live or online.

This advanced training covers all of the current evidence based, best practice in the Alcohol & Other Drugs (AOD) and Mental Health from an integrated, holistic framework

In June 2018, S.A.M.H.I. launched its 6 module, Self Paced, 12 hour Dual Diagnosis Training. This training will equip workers to be able to deliver brief and early interventions to people struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues, as well as advanced psychotherapeutic skills. This is the same as the comprehensive 2 day advanced training that is being delivered live across Australia and online in 81 countries. –

This online Dual Diagnosis Training was launched in June 2018 on the learning online learning platform which provides lifetime login to the training. They have thousands of courses and millions of students worldwide.

Module 1. Drugs & Effects

  • Cycle of Addiction
  • Alcohol
  • Drink & Drug Driving
  • Tobacco
  • Cannabis
  • Stimulants (Speed, Ice, Ecstasy, Cocaine)
  • Inhalants (volatile substances)

Module 2. Addictions & Mental Health

  • Dual Diagnosis
  • Integrative Holistic Model
  • Needs & Underlying Issues that drive addictions

Module 3. Harm Minimisation & Optimal Health

  • Pharmacotherapies
  • Orthomolecular Science, Functional Medicine & Optimal Health

Module 4. Neuropharmacology & Neurophysiology (Brain Works)

  • Neuroplasticity
  • Neurotransmitters
  • Psychosis vs Dissociation
  • Psychospirituality

Module 5. Trauma model & Keys to Treatment

  • Guilt vs Shame
  • Dealing with ambivalence

Module 6. Brief & Early Intervention and Tripod of Support

  • Stages of Change
  • Costs vs Benefits – doing a brief intervention

LIVE dates:

Integrative psychotherapy: How leveraging new research on lifestyle modification and therapeutic approaches can support mental health and cognitive rehabilitation

Thursday, November 12, 2020 & Friday, November 13, 2020 – 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Mountain Time)

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists
Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists

Location: Online Workshop (Ottawa, ON)

In this two-day online workshop, Dr. John Arden will present concrete and research-based strategies and plans to support client mental and cognitive health. He will discuss how, and why, functional lifestyle changes can support symptom recovery.

Learning objectives:
By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:
1. Distinguish between various health conditions and psychological disorders and their overlap.
2. Explain how poor health contributes to poor mental health as well as vice versa.
3. Analyze how an overactive immune system contributes to depression, anxiety and trauma response.
4. Evaluate how adverse childhood experiences contribute to long-term chronic health and mental health conditions and what to do about it.
5. Plan where to encourage lifestyle changes that improve health and mental health.
6. Measure the effect of poor sleep, diet, and lack of exercise contributions to changes in mental health.
7. Choose what psychotherapeutic intervention to use for various psychological conditions.
8. Assess the effects of various psychotherapeutic interventions.
9. Select pain-based and evidence-based approaches with the most practical outcomes.
10. Formulate an intervention plan most appropriate for the individual based on her/his ethnicity, socio-economic position, and LGBTQ.

John Arden, PhD, ABPP, has over 40 years of experience providing psychological services and directing mental health programs. He has conducted seminars in all US states and 30 countries. He is also the author of 15 books, including Mind-Brain-Gene, Brain2Brain, Brain-Based Therapy: Adults, Brain-Based Therapy: Children & Adolescents, as well as seven self-help books.

Link to register

CPA & CSBBCS Career Fair

November 12th, 2020 from 12pm – 4pm EST

Canadian Psychological Association
Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science (CSBBCS)

The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), in collaboration with the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science (CSBBCS), is pleased to announce that it will be hosting a Career Fair on November 12th, 2020.  This Fair will mark the first in a series of Career Fairs the CPA will host in 2020 and 2021.

Students participating in this event will have an opportunity to learn about various career paths and positions for psychology graduates outside of the clinical and academic settings directly from individuals in those positions; connect with the people in these positions about their experiences via virtual break out rooms; and have an opportunity to talk to the CPA about what they would find helpful in terms of career-related resources and information.




If you are interested in learning about possible career paths, talking to potential employers, and identifying the types of resources and information you would find helpful in pursuing a career, this event is not to be missed!

When: Thursday November 12th, 2020 from 12pm – 4pm EST

Where: Virtual
Limited spaces available.

Cost: $10.00

Registration limited to CPA members/affiliates and CSBBCS members/students.

More information at

MDMA-Assisted Therapy: Ethics and Law

November 7, 2020

Enhanced Therapy Institue

Location: Online Webinar (Winnipeg, MB)
Phone: (204) 226-5678 

One Day Webinar Conference Featuring Rick Doblin, Founder of Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

Hosted by
Neil McArthur – University of Manitoba
Darek Dawda – Enhanced Therapy Institute

(Students can contact for a complimentary ticket.)

Registration @

Join world’s leading researchers for an in-depth discussion of ethical, clinical, and legal issues related to MDMA-Assisted Therapy, a new form of therapy that combines psychological treatment and a powerful psychoactive MDMA medication. Promising clinical research suggests that this unique therapy might become medically available in Canada and USA for treatment of trauma as early as 2022. Presenters will discuss issues such as safety, training and regulation, equity and access, and broader future healing potential such as relationship healing. The conference will consider MDMA-assisted therapy within the broader context of psychedelic-assisted therapy, and will offer global, cultural, and historical perspectives on the issue.

32nd ICP2020 and IUPsyS Assembly Rescheduled to July 2021

Due to the public health risks and challenges presented by the novel coronavirus pandemic, the 32nd International Congress of Psychology (ICP) 2020 and the Annual General Assembly of the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS), which was to be held from July 19-24, 2020 in Prague, Czech Republic, has been re-scheduled to July 18-23, 2021 at the same Prague Congress Centre. 

Cancelled – Reconsolidation Therapy™ (Brunet Method™): Foundational Elements and Clinical Practice

November 25-27, 2020

Les Consultants Alain Brunet et Associés

Location: Online
Contact Phone Number: (514) 370-8992
Contact E-Mail:
Event Link:

Based on recent discoveries in neuroscience, Reconsolidation Therapy™ has been scientifically proven to be an effective treatment for psychotrauma. This method combines the intake of a pharmacological agent with brief psychotherapy. Reconsolidation Therapy™ provides a simple, fast, and effective method to reduce the strength of emotional memories for victims who have experienced various degrees of trauma.Here is your opportunity to get trained in Reconsolidation Therapy™! The training will take place online using a video communication platform. Reconsolidation Therapy can be practiced online or face to face.Training Format and Schedule:
Online training will be held using the online platform Zoom.
Duration: 2.5 days
Schedule (Time Zone: New York – USA): Day 1 & 2 – 9h30 AM – 5h30 PM – Day 3 – 9h30 AM – 1h00 PM

This training will be given in the English language, and it will provide you with the necessary knowledge needed to practice Reconsolidation Therapy. During the training, you will learn how to use the therapeutic protocol, which will allow you to effectively treat people suffering from post-traumatic stress.Objectives:

  • Differentiate between the various stress and trauma-related disorders
  • Understand the theory of reconsolidation
  • Learn about the studies supporting Reconsolidation Therapy

This training is conducted at an intermediate level. It is offered to all mental health professionals who have a post-graduate university degree and are legally qualified to practice psychotherapy, as well as to therapists practicing alternative techniques that are recognized.

For more information or to reserve your spot in the next training session, please visit our website.

Psychological Strategies for Wearing Masks – APNL Press Release

August 18, 2020 – APNL Press Release:

Psychological Strategies for Wearing Masks

The NL government recently announced the mandatory wearing of masks in all public spaces for individuals over the age of 5.  While some individuals have been routinely wearing masks for many months, either as part of their work, or while running errands, for many this will be a new, and somewhat uncomfortable situation.  Fortunately, Psychologists can help!  Becoming accustomed to wearing a mask is just like making any other kind of behavioural change.


Click here for the Press Release (PDF)

APA PsychSolutions Competition

The American Psychological Association, has invited CPA members to participate in the PsychSolutions Competition on behalf of CPA, an organizational partner of the APA. PsychSolutions is a new international initiative of APA’s Office of International Affairs that promotes the critical role of psychological science in addressing global health challenges. This competition, open to all APA members/affiliates and members of APA partner associations, will seek proposals that demonstrate impact in prevention of mental health challenges/well-being and/or the reduction of the burden of suffering. The selected winner will be awarded a $10,000 USD grant to advance their initiative and will work with the APA communications team to promote their efforts.

PsychSolutions Summary.pdf

PsychSolutions Terms and Conditions.pdf

Written Submission for the Pre-Budget Consultations in Advance of the 2021 Budget by the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA)

Written Submission for the Pre-Budget Consultations in Advance of the 2021 Budget by the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA)

Read the submission (PDF). (version francais ici).

See also the submissions from The Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) and The Canadian Consortium for Research (CCR)

“Psychology Works” Fact Sheet: Racism

What is Racism? What Can We Do to Address it?

Racism is a combination of stereotypical thinking, negative and hateful emotions, and discriminatory acts targeting individuals or groups of individuals who are regarded as being inherently inferior, somewhat socially deviant, and deserving of inferior status in society. While all humans have the capacity to hold stereotypes and prejudices towards other groups, racism becomes a serious problem when one group or its individual members have the power to act on these views and evaluations of others.

  • Racism is a complex of social categorization and a system of behaviours that are deeply rooted in histories of colonization and slavery. The construction of a racial hierarchy by colonial powers continues to create advantages for those with power in maintaining their social, economic, and political dominance.
  • The groups which become the recipients of racism typically have distinct physical characteristics such as skin colour, facial features, and body types. Historically, these groups in North America and other Western countries tend to be people who have darker skin tone, are a minority, and are socio-economically disadvantaged (e.g., Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) due to systemic racism. In this fact sheet we will focus on racism, but we recognize that racism exists in combination with sexism, homophobia and transphobia, classism, ableism, etc.   

Individual Racism refers to internalized racism that resides within the person. Examples include anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, and anti-Asian sentiments, words, and actions. Believing that some groups are inherently inferior to others is an example of individual racism. People may endorse racism overtly or in more subtle ways, also known as microaggressions.

Systemic Racism refers to the unfair practices and unequal treatment of the affected groups either as a result of institutional legitimization or by way of general consensus and long-standing informal practices among the majority and privileged groups. Systemic racism in North America provides a foundation for White Supremacy that allows oppression and exploitation of racialized minorities. A few of the many historical examples of systemic racism in Canada include:

  • 200 years of slavery from the 17th to the 19th centuries where Black and Indigenous peoples were the primary enslaved peoples.
  • Indian Act in 1876 essentially made Indigenous Peoples wards of the state. In 1894-1996 Canadian policy required Indigenous children to be taken away from their families and placed in residential schools run by Christian priests and nuns. These children were forced to abandon their cultural practices including their language.
  • 1885 Chinese Immigration Act required Chinese immigrants to pay a very high tax for coming to Canada while European immigrants were not required to pay this tax.

There is a tendency to frame racism as an issue of “good” people versus “bad” people, which often leads White people to seek to position themselves as “good” since they believe themselves to have good intentions, and therefore cannot be racist. This creates a pattern of avoiding being able to look at one’s own racist attitudes and behaviours. As such, BIPOC individuals can be met with an intensely defensive, and at times aggressive response, denying the racist behaviour. This dynamic serves to maintain White supremacy by silencing BIPOC individuals’ expressions of their experiences of racism.

What is the Psychology of Racism?

Racism is comprised of i) Social stereotypes; generalized thoughts, ii) Prejudice; negative attitudes and negative emotions, and iii) Discrimination; unfair and unequal actions against individuals due to their group membership.

Social Stereotypes and Biases in Judgements

  • It is a fundamental property of the human mind to divide the social world into the categories of similar-to-me (In-group) and not-similar-to- me (outgroup). This perception of similarity and dissimilarity with others may be based on clearly noticeable criteria such as the skin colour, gender, age, language, or they may be based on criteria not so clearly visible such as one’s belief systems, religion, culture, or ethnicity.
  • Due to familiarity and frequency of interactions with one’s ingroup members, one can identify and distinguish one’s ingroup members with relative ease. In contrast, the relative low familiarity with outgroup members is associated with the tendency to perceive and judge the outgroup as a whole. The result is Social Stereotypes or generalized thoughts about outgroups such as “natives are alcoholics” or “blacks are criminals”.
  • The tendency to perceive an outgroup as a whole is associated with the “They all look alike” effect. This may partially explain why police officers may make errors in identifying individuals from their unfamiliar “outgroups”. When this judgement error occurs within the context of systemic racism, more severe negative consequences can result, such as the police officer not only apprehending the wrong individual but also quickly meting out brutality against this individual if they happen to be from a BIPOC group.
  • Implicit Bias refers to having a stereotypical view of a category of people without having a conscious awareness of it. However, some circumstances can trigger them without the individual’s conscious awareness, which in turn may trigger a biased behavioural response. This may include an unintended racial slur or unintended unfair treatment of the individuals from the BIPOC groups.

Prejudice and Feelings of Hate

  • Negative stereotypes of a category of people are accompanied by negative attitudes and emotions such as anger, hate, irritability, and fear.
  • Prejudice can also appear to be “positive,” but these attitudes are paternalistic, condescending, and prescriptive; e.g., “You should be caring and kind. You are a Filipino”, or “You should do well on math. You are Chinese”.
  • Prejudice can be reflected in the feeling of discomfort, irritability, anger, pity, and disgust towards members of racialized, ethnic and cultural minority groups and avoiding associating with them. Yet there may be a denial of conscious awareness of this emotionally negative attitude.
  • When minority individuals do well and follow rules, they are viewed without prejudice. However, when minority individuals deviate from the norm, violate a law, perform below expectations or give a negative feedback or assessment, the reaction from the privileged group member can be swifter and harsher. For example, if a Black professor gives good grades and favourable comments to students, they are viewed on par with a colleague from a White-European majority. However, if both professors give low grades and negative feedback to students, the Black professor is likely to receive far more harsh evaluation from their students compared to their White-European colleague.
  • Prejudice impacts the receiver negatively and may lead to reciprocal feelings and actions. That is, if one person dislikes or discriminates against another person, these attitudes and behaviours are returned. Those who express prejudice and engage in discriminatory practices cannot expect to be liked or accepted by those who are excluded. Hence, those individuals who are routinely excluded by systemic or individual prejudice are likely to react against those who are the sources of such prejudice.

Discrimination: Unfair and Unequal Treatment

  • Discrimination is the behaviour of treating individuals differently, and to their disadvantage, based on their group membership.
  • Discriminatory acts can have serious impacts such as a physician who spends less time with a member of a racialized minority group or dismisses or misinterprets the seriousness of their symptoms and refuses due care. This act of discrimination may or may not be intentional, but the consequences can be serious.
  • Discrimination may be subtle and often non-verbal. For example, a bank teller may greet their ingroup members with extra courtesy, an extra smile, and may offer extra help, but may remain very formal and task-focused without offering any informal or personal courtesy to the member of the racialized minority group. Other examples include half-hearted or neglected greetings, showing signs of lack of interest while interacting, or not offering help when clearly needed, being quick in pointing out minor violation of some norms in a loud voice (e.g., “Hey, you can’t sit there. It is for seniors only”).
  • Discriminatory practices are commonly found in employment settings. It may start with the preference for selecting candidates from the privileged groups for jobs, so fewer members of racialized minorities are called in for interviews. During the interview, discrimination is evident in behaviours such as spending less time on the interview processes and showing signs of discomfort or a lack of interest. Also, the racialized minority candidate is likely to be offered a lower start-up salary, contributing to pay gap discrepancies which combines with accumulated wealth disparities to maintain White supremacy. Discrimination may continue in the form of biased performance evaluations and not offering promotion despite one’s credentials. This highlights the importance of power differentials between groups. In other words, negative evaluations of others happen when one group is able to act on their negative stereotypes and prejudice towards another group.
  • The result is a “vertical mosaic” whereby at the top jobs in most organizations, we see individuals from the privileged group, notably from White-European background. At the bottom of the employment hierarchy; the low paying manual labor jobs such as cleaning and dish washing, we see an overrepresentation of racialized minority groups. This leads to economic disparity. For example, in 2016, more Black Canadians were unemployed compared to Canadians who were not visible minorities (12.5% vs. 7.3%). Also, the average income of Black Canadians was significantly lower than average income of Canadians who were not visible minorities ($35,310 vs. $50,225).
  • Discrimination is also reflected in the judicial and foster care systems. While Indigenous peoples make up only 3.8% of the total population, 23.2% of all people incarcerated in prison and 52% of children in care are Indigenous.
  • Experience of discrimination negatively impacts one’s physical and mental health. There is consistent and strong evidence that self-reported racism is associated with negative outcomes for physical health such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. It is also evident in increased mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, distress, and substance abuse. The negative impact of racism on physical and mental health have been found amongst men and women of all ethnic groups including Blacks, Indigenous, Latinos, Asians, and Whites for all age groups (i.e., adolescents, university students, and adults).

How Do We Learn to Live Together Without Racism?

The approach to changing individual and systemic racism must be both at the individual level, and at the government, legal, and policy level.

  • Racism, if not checked has the potential to escalate. Genocides for example, do not occur overnight. Hence it is important to confront racism at its slightest and subtlest expression, in person or in social media. Signs and symbols of racially motivated oppression and harassments on smaller scales such as pranks, vandalism, racial slurs, and racial jokes must be confronted and addressed right away. Individuals, for example, may confront their friends and relatives, and respond to negative social media posts by them.
  • The burden of bringing awareness and preventing hateful acts of prejudice and discrimination should not be solely on the shoulders of the racialized minority groups. Rather, majority members who have inherited, and therefore benefit from the systems of racial power have the responsibility to repair harm and establish justice. They must step forward to becoming true partners in making change. This will also establish the basis for trust between majority and minority groups, which will nurture racialized minority groups’ willingness to work with majority partners. It is crucial for both majority and minority groups to work together to bring about social transformation.
  • The psychological principle that familiarity and similarity lead to liking may be implemented by creating opportunities for people to increase interactions with the dissimilar “others”. This would allow them to find core similarities to enhance a sense of overall familiarity while understanding cultural differences. Education strategies including lesson plans for young children may include a focus on exploring similarities and understanding and appreciating differences among children.
  • Community activities and events must be inclusive of ALL cultural groups at all levels (organization, representation, participation). They must include majority and privileged community members alongside racial minority groups. Community programs should target fostering meaningful interactions and cooperation between privileged majority groups and racialized minority groups to reach a common goal.
  • Contact between individuals of different backgrounds has been shown to improve mutual acceptance. However, such contact is likely to be more effective when contact is voluntary; is among individuals of roughly equal status; and when it is supported by promoting inclusion and limiting discrimination. These conditions need to be put in place by enacting public policies and programs.
  • All social institutions (government, healthcare, education, family, etc.) need to recognize and actively commit to dismantling racist policies and behaviours in combination with repairing past discrimination. Measures and actions need to be put into place which favour equity, diversity and inclusiveness. This is achieved through several processes: (1) continuous education, training, and discussion; (2) holding ourselves accountable to prevent racism from being committed, as well as addressing racism when it is committed; and (3) organizing our institutions in a way that inherently favours diversity and social justice.
  • We must support policies and programs that promote the acceptance of people for who they are, and what matters most to them such as their cultural heritage, and religion.
  • Holding ourselves accountable for the ways that society has been structured to advantage White people, and for the racist actions at both individual and institutional levels, will enable social change towards living together without racism.

Where do I go for more information?

This fact sheet has been prepared for the Canadian Psychological Association by Gira Bhatt (Kwantlen Polytechnic University), Saba Safdar (University of Guelph), John Berry (Queen’s University), Maya Yampolsky (Université Laval), and Randal Tonks (Camosun College).

Date: August 10, 2020
Updated: October 12, 2020

Your opinion matters! Please contact us with any questions or comments about any of the Psychology Works Fact Sheets:

Canadian Psychological Association
141 Laurier Avenue West, Suite 702
Ottawa, Ontario    K1P 5J3
Tel:  613-237-2144
Toll free (in Canada):  1-888-472-0657

Making the Transition to Online Teaching and Learning: A Guide for Instructors

In response to requests from psychology educators, The CPA’s Education Directorate has developed a brief guide to taking university instruction in psychology online. The guide has a brief overview of the processes involved in student learning, as well as helpful tips to increase student engagement, and provides a framework for course planning and development along with templates for course and lesson planning. It contains extensive links to other sources of practical help in making the transition from in-person to online environments. The guide is intended to be a living document, and will be updated as new links and information become available.

Making the Transition to Online Teaching and Learning: A Guide for Instructors

Pandemic Parenting

Pandemic Parenting 

A platform where experts can share free science-based knowledge, experience, and resources. Our goal is to build a supportive, informed community for all who care for or work with children and seek information about how to make the tough decisions ahead while coping with pandemic-related stress.

Free upcoming webinars:

You can learn more about Pandemic Parenting on our website, by following us on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, or by subscribing to the Pandemic Parenting email list. Feel free to share with loved ones, colleagues, and clients. 

Dr. Lindsay Malloy and Dr. Amanda Zelechoski

Dr. Kim Corace, CPA President (2020/2022), named the first Vice President of Innovation at Transformation at The Royal

Dr. Kim CoraceCongratulations to CPA President (2020/2022), Dr. Kim Corace, who has been named the first Vice President of Innovation at Transformation at The Royal. Her role will be to provide strategic leadership for mental health and addiction system transformation, including innovation in patient care service delivery models, at the regional and provincial levels.

The full release can be found here.


Special Issue of Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science: Exceptional Canadian Contributions to Research in Depression

Special Issue of Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science: Exceptional Canadian Contributions to Research in Depression.

Editor: David J. A. Dozois.

Deadline for submissions: February 28, 2021.
Articles can be submitted in either English or French.
Click here for more information about the special issue and how to submit.  

Psychological First Aid for Frontline Health Care Providers During COVID-19: A Quick Guide to Wellness

Prepared by
Dr. Mélanie Joanisse, C.Psych.
Clinical and Health Psychologist

Psychological First Aid for Frontline Health Care Providers During COVID-19: A Quick Guide to Wellness (PDF)

Disclaimer: the tools provided in this workbook are not intended to be viewed as a replacement for psychological services provided by a trained professional. Please seek professional help if needed.

Audio Update: Connected North Indigenous role models

·Connected North from TakingITGlobal was the recipient of the CPA’s 2020 Humanitarian award for their work connecting youth in remote northern Canadian communities to educational programs, activism, and mentors through 2-way video technology. We spoke to Waukomaun Pawis at Connected North about their programs, indigenous role models, and coping with COVID.

Practice Disruption Insurance Coverage

Any CPA member, or any member of a provincial/territorial association of psychology, who purchased the Clinic/Business insurance package through BMS, in the year ending June 2020, and wishes information or advice about practice disruption coverage as the result of COVID-19, please contact Chris Blom at Miller Thomson  

Special Call for COVID-19 Related Submissions for Presentation at the CPA’s 2020 Virtual Series

CPA 2020 Virtual EventThe impacts of COVID-19 are wide-reaching, impacting all aspects of life as we know it.  In light of COVID-19, the CPA made the decision to transition its annual 2020 in-person convention to a virtual series offered over the months of July and August.

The CPA is committed to knowledge exchange and community for all its members and affiliates. To that end, the virtual series will feature hundreds of submissions from individuals accepted to present at the CPA’s in-person convention. It will also feature a specialized stream devoted to COVID-19 and pandemics.

We are re-opening and accepting new submissions, specific only to COVID-19 and pandemic-related presentations at the CPA’s virtual series in August.  Submissions unrelated to COVID-19 or pandemics will not be accepted.

You may submit to virtually present a poster, Gimme 5, 12-minute spoken presentation, 25-minute theory review, or 55-minute symposium (comprised of at least 2 presentations).

We will begin accepting submissions Monday June 15th ( Deadline for submissions is June 26th. All submissions will undergo a rapid peer review. Acceptance notices will go out by July 10th.

For more information, contact us at

“Psychology Works” Fact Sheet: Why Does Culture Matter to COVID-19?

Pandemics are complex dynamic systems that shift and change over time due to the influence of a huge and interacting set of variables. Cultural contexts, although they tend to change more slowly, are similarly complex. Research on cultural processes unfolding under pandemic conditions is therefore fraught with uncertainty. Nonetheless, thanks to research conducted during and after previous disease outbreaks combined with the first studies rapidly assembled in the first months of the current pandemic, we are in a position to make some initial evidence-based claims as cultural and cross-cultural psychologists.

Contemporary cultural / cross-cultural psychology rejects the idea that biology and culture are opposed. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is straightforwardly biological, as is the associated disease, COVID-19. Nonetheless, the cultural context shapes the ways in which people engage with this threat, affecting everything from pre-existing health status (and hence, vulnerability) and living conditions to how people react to the threat of the virus and to the measures being taken to combat it.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have already observed cultural variations in:

  • Pre-virus readiness for pandemics and other disasters
  • Transmission rates
  • Behavioural responses (e.g., mask-wearing, handwashing)
  • Official policies (e.g., “social distancing”)
  • Compliance with official policies

While our biological immune system is critical when we are infected with a virus, our behavioural immune system helps protect us from getting infected in the first place. It does so by helping us to detect pathogen cues and then to trigger relevant emotional and behavioural responses to these cues. Many aspects of this system are shaped by the local cultural context.

Indeed, some aspects of culture itself may have been shaped by variations in historical levels of infectious disease risk, leading to longstanding differences between cultural groups. For example, cultural groups with a high historical prevalence of pathogens tend to show lower levels of social gregariousness and greater concern about outgroup members.

We can understand the links between cultural context and COVID-19 at three levels: 1) macro-level of whole societies; 2) meso-level of families and communities; and 3) micro-level of individual people.

Macro-level of Whole Societies

Societies differ in numerous demographic ways relevant to COVID-19. For example, societies differ in terms of the strength of the economy, development of the healthcare system, urban population density, and degree of emergency preparedness.

These structural differences are shaped by longstanding cultural tendencies. For example, we would expect societies characterized by widespread valuation of a long-term time horizon to emphasize preparedness as compared with societies focused more on short-term concerns.

Political polarization can also lower trust, leading people to prefer advice from politically motivated sources and/or advice that fits with political preconceptions. Structural discrimination against certain ethnocultural groups can also compromise trust. There is an added concern that such polarization can lead different segments of society to act in conflict with each other rather than in pursuit of common goals.

Societies also differ in cultural patterns of values and behaviour. The extent to which people in a given society move between different locations, or geographical mobility, is associated with a set of skills that facilitate frequent shifts between different social networks, or relational mobility. Recent research has shown that the transmission rate during the 30 days after the first case of COVID-19 is correlated with societal levels of relational mobility. It appears that one problem with mobile societies is increased ease of transmission across geographical and social distances.

The extent to which people in a given society adhere closely to rules or look for opportunities to violate such rules can be understood as a distinction between tightness and looseness. Tighter societies are more likely to accept behavioural constraints. Particular advantages may accrue to societies able to maintain tight-loose ambidexterity: tight norms with sufficient looseness to promote ‘outside-the-box thinking’. This combination of self-restraint and creativity might be very helpful in pandemic situations, as both are needed.

Meso-Level of Families and Communities

Normative behavioural patterns in particular social networks can affect the transmission both of (a) an infectious disease and (b) ideas about the disease. Whereas the former requires study of how a virus propagates within and between bodies (e.g., increased contagion of a virus that survives for a long time on surfaces), the latter requires study of how ideas propagate within and between minds (e.g., increased believability of an idea frequently repeated by a source deemed credible).

Social networks accelerate transmission of harmful and helpful ideas about a given disease and what one ought to do about it. Such transmission can take place through conversation or observational learning, but also through traditional news sources or social media. Social capital, or the value that comes from our social networks and connections, varies across families and communities. Whereas a focus on strengthening intra-group connections (high bonding capital) would keep the virus in the local bubble, a focus on strengthening inter-group connections (high bridging capital) would allow the virus to be transmitted more widely.

The centrality of social connectedness in many communities is reflected through participation in communal events, which may feel obligatory (e.g., festivals, weddings, funerals). Emotional expressivity in certain communities may be associated with close talking, handshakes, kissing, loud exclamations, and so on. All of this is conducive to droplet projection, which further propagates the virus.

Measures taken to combat pandemic spread are also received differently depending on local characteristics. For example, families and communities differ in their acceptance of hierarchy—and hence, compliance with authority. One complicating question is who is a legitimate source of authority: do people look to public health officials, family members, religious leaders, or celebrities? Moreover, public health officials may require measures that directly contradict local imperatives; impeding appropriate burial of the dead, for example, can be emotionally charged.

Given that outbreaks of disease are associated with high levels of anxiety and uncertainty, the potential for increased intergroup tensions should not be underestimated. There is evidence that disease risk increases prejudice and discrimination against:

  • Outgroups that are disfavoured in general (e.g., visible minorities, Indigenous people, the poor and especially the homeless);
  • Outgroups that are specifically associated with the source of transmission of a given disease (e.g., East Asian Canadians, in the case of COVID-19);
  • Outgroup and even ingroup members that by vocation or circumstance have a higher degree of exposure to the disease (e.g., grocery store workers, healthcare workers—although in the latter case, there are also positive views).

Stigma has consequences, including stress/distress, barriers to effective healthcare, mistrust, distortion of public risk perceptions, hate speech/crimes, and other forms of marginalization. These consequences can further disease spread (e.g., stress weakens the immune system while healthcare barriers delay treatment).

Disfavoured groups, moreover, are at additional risk due to social inequalities. For example, certain minority groups are more likely to be found in jobs that involve high contact but low compensation. Disfavored groups can show ‘cultural mistrust’, understandable but problematic apprehension around official social structures (e.g., government, media, law enforcement, formal healthcare). Economic disadvantage is associated with higher likelihood of pre-existing health conditions that in turn appear to increase COVID-19 risks. For example, this combination of health vulnerabilities and reduced healthcare access is endemic to indigenous communities.

Importantly, stigma goes beyond disfavoured groups and can include people who are also being celebrated for their important role in fighting pandemics (i.e., healthcare workers). Fear of healthcare workers and their potential to spread disease may interact with cultural beliefs about health and illness. If pre-existing negative views about healthcare workers or conspiratorial beliefs that incorporate them are widespread in a given community, the problem increases. At the same time, these kinds of incidents have been reported for many diseases, including COVID-19, across a range of cultural settings, suggesting a degree of universality.

Micro-Level of Individual Psychology

People’s behaviours are based in their beliefs, the behaviours they observe in others (and interpret in light of their beliefs), and the behaviours they believe others expect of them. What a person believes and how they behave is strongly shaped by their cultural context. Individual differences that may in part be rooted in temperament—for example, in attention to health, hygiene, comfort with isolation, tendency to stay home when sick, and so on—are further shaped by local norms.

The tendency towards optimism versus pessimism is a good and relevant example of a dispositional trait that is shaped by cultural context. There is now considerable evidence suggesting that people living in East-Asian cultural contexts tend to hold a cyclical view in which positive and negative experiences tend to oscillate and balance out over time. In other words, a run of good fortune means that one’s luck will soon run out, but also vice versa. People living in Euro-American cultural contexts, by contrast, have a more linear view in which recent past and present experiences predict future experiences.

We can understand a long period of time without a serious pandemic as a run of good fortune, in which case we might expect cultural variations in whether we would expect people to respond with increased or decreased preparation for a future pandemic. In research conducted after the 2002 SARS outbreak, defensive pessimism was associated with traditional Chinese values and predicted increased anxiety about infection but also more consistent health behaviours, such as hand-washing. Unrealistic optimism, in contrast, predicted perceived imperviousness to infection, leading to better mood but also to lower intention to wash hands.

Tendency towards optimism versus pessimism is part of a cluster of personality traits that all share commonality with negative affectivity. Other examples include anxiety sensitivity and intolerance of uncertainty. Although negative affectivity emerges as an independent personality domain across a wide range of different cultural contexts, there is marked cultural variation in the extent to which negative affectivity is tolerated or minimized. Negative affectivity is associated with risk perception, leading to more distress but also more willingness to take recommended precautions.

Negative affectivity is also associated directly with the likelihood of symptom-like experiences. Anxiety about one’s health leads to increases in self-monitoring for signs of illness; moreover, anxiety itself can generate physiological reactions that might be mistaken for such signs. For example, increased anxiety can be accompanied by increased heart-rate, sweaty palms, trembling, shortness of breath, and so on, all of which could look like signs of illness. Note that some migrants and minority group members might already have elevated anxiety and uncertainty.

Experiences that might be mistaken for disease can thus be produced by a combination of:

  • Ideas about pandemic disease symptoms circulating in a given community;
  • Culturally-shaped tendencies to monitor particular bodily sensations; and
  • Individual differences in negative affectivity.

Moreover, the very fact of paying attention to certain sensations can make them more salient. In some cases, the concern that one might have caught a dangerous disease can generate further anxiety, thus worsening these sensations. These kinds of feedback loops could lead to intra- and inter-group differences in the symptoms that are discussed and expressed.

Conclusion: What Should We Do?

The struggle against COVID-19, will require the ingenuity of biological scientists across a variety of disciplines. Nonetheless, the potential contributions of the behavioural and social sciences should not be underestimated. The pandemic, along with the measures taken to combat it, is shaped in important ways by culture. What, then, are the implications?

An unprecedented number of people worldwide are concerned about the same disease and are experiencing broadly the same distancing measures. As such, there may be a temptation to focus on the similarities. At a minimum, policy-makers, healthcare workers, and the public at large should keep in mind that the pandemic experience may be very different for different people. These differences are shaped by the society in which one lives, the communities of which one is a part, and culturally-shaped individual variations. Complicating matters, appreciation for difference does not mean treating all responses equally when it comes to effectively mitigating a pandemic. Clearly, some cultural patterns are more effective than others.

Nonetheless, understanding that people have reasons for their beliefs and actions is important. Such understanding can help combat stigmatizing attitudes and better tailor strategies to work with different cultural communities. For example, public health officials and other policy-makers might work with religious leaders to spread information about the need to rethink traditional public celebrations. Debunking false information once it has taken hold is extremely difficult. Cultural understanding can help in developing strategies to ‘prebunk’ these ideas: combating this information in advance, in ways acceptable to the target population.

Clinicians, meanwhile, are now practicing in very different ways compared to earlier this year. There has been a major uptake of online service delivery methods, some of which may continue into the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, even when a client is alone on a screen, it is important to keep in mind the web of influences around them. Clients may hold very different culturally-shaped beliefs about the pandemic, different from each other and also different from the clinician.

At the same time, cultural traditions can be a source of resilience, as sources of wisdom about how to make sense of and prepare for uncertainty for example. We should remember, moreover, that interventions are not limited to majority-culture healthcare workers and minority patients. The people on the front-line represent many different cultural groups. As with clients, this can mean specific, underappreciated stressors for minority group healthcare workers—but also potential access to a wider range of cultural resources.

Regardless of whether one is focusing on the laypeople or officials, patients or healthcare workers, we believe it important to be wary of claims that people from a given cultural background will therefore act in a predictable way. Such an approach can inadvertently promote stereotypes, a notable danger during a time of heightened anxieties. The complexities of research in a rapidly changing pandemic context further bolster the argument for caution. Yet, a rapidly shifting landscape fraught with cultural anxieties demands an evidence-based, culturally-attuned approach, and one that can be communicated quickly and effectively.

For cultural and cross-cultural psychologists, the overall message is clear:

  • Culture is integral to understanding societal, community, family, and individual responses to pandemics;
  • Keeping culture in mind leads to much more nuanced and effective responses to individual circumstances.

We expect many more findings to flesh out this overall message over the next several years. Nonetheless, we have every reason for confidence that such findings will serve to confirm and reinforce these core ideas.

Where do I go for more information?

To obtain  important and up to date information about COVID-19, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) website at

Provincial, territorial, and some municipal associations of psychology often maintain referral services. For the names and coordinates of provincial and territorial associations of psychology, please visit: 

This fact sheet has been prepared for the Canadian Psychological Association by Andrew G. Ryder, Associate Professor, Concordia University, Jewish General Hospital; John Berry, Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University; Saba Safdar, Professor, University of Guelph; and Maya Yampolsky, Assistant Professor, Université Laval.

Date: May 27, 2020

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CPA Statement against Anti-Black Racism and Discrimination

The Canadian Psychological Association rests on a foundation of policy and principle of anti-discrimination and respect for the dignity of persons.  These policies and principles are embedded in the Code of Ethics which guide the science, practice and education of psychology in Canada. 

2020 has challenged Canadians, and citizens of the world, to be brave; to overcome stresses to our health and welfare and to do it with kindness, respect, and compassion. Anti-Black racism jeopardizes our success as individuals, families, communities, workplaces and societies.  Our success depends on our willingness and ability to look after ourselves and each other and to work together. There is no room for racism, prejudice or systemic discrimination in a just society.  

A just society enables all its members to contribute, to thrive, and to make a positive difference when facing fortune and when facing adversity.  The CPA invites people to stand together, to stand up and to stand close against anti-Black racism and discrimination of all kinds. 

CIHR Operating Grant : COVID-19 Mental Health & Substance Use Service Needs and Delivery

Registration Deadline: June 18, 2020
Application Deadline: July 7, 2020
Anticipated Notice of Decision: Aug. 25, 2020
Funding Start Date: Sept. 1, 2020

Click here to apply for the opportunity:

As a part of the Government of Canada’s continued rapid response to address major health challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the third funding opportunity in CIHR’s COVID-19 and Mental Health (CMH) Initiative, Operating Grant: COVID-19 Mental Health & Substance Use Service Needs and Delivery, launches today to:

  1.  Understand and address the acute mental health and/or substance use needs of individuals, communities and/or populations, and/or the effects on related care systems, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and
  2. Develop the evidence to better match access to mental health and/or substance use services with the people who need them the most, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The registration deadline for this funding opportunity is June 18. Like the previous CMH Initiative funding opportunities, Operating Grant: COVID-19 Mental Health & Substance Use Service Needs and Delivery has urgent deadlines to ensure the timely delivery of critical knowledge. As the mental health effects of the pandemic continue, help us fill this critical research need by sharing this information with interested colleagues.

To connect with CIHR about the CMH Initiative or funding opportunities therein, please email