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July 9, 2018

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Psychology

My research interests are based in the disciplines of developmental and health psychology. I’ve been conducting research and teaching in the psychology program at Laurier Brantford for over 12 years – more recently in the areas of psychopathology, clinical psychology and perception. In addition, I am a member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario, and have a part-time clinical practice where I provide therapy and counseling to children, youth and adults.

My clinic work is rewarding for two reasons. For one, I help individuals resolve psychological problems and self-actualize – individuals who happen to reside and work in the city of Brantford. It allows me to support a vibrant community that, despite having rapid growth and positive change, continues to lag behind other cities in health services and special education. Second, by virtue of being a therapist, I am good at listening to concerns and validating the issues facing people today. In so doing, my clinic work ethically guides and informs my research.

One of the most common problems I hear about is the chronic stress adults experience at work due to greater workload, low control over their jobs, and boredom with day-to-day routines. At the same time, many adults and adolescents struggle with managing their anger, being confident in social circles, and being effective at resolving interpersonal conflicts. Bullying and discourteous behaviours by peers, co-workers and supervisors are other issues that face my clients across the lifespan.

In my recent publication, Workplace Incivility, Psychological Distress, and the Protective Effect of Co-Worker Support, I describe a research study conducted in collaboration with my colleagues from McMaster University that explored the magnitude of workplace incivility among Canadian workers at a large crown corporation – Canada Post. Canada Post employees have been known to have an active union, job security and good pay, yet anecdotal reports suggest that they suffer from poor relationships at work and rude behaviours by their supervisors and customers. Using anonymous mailed questionnaires, I found that over 80% of 1,000 respondents reported at least some degree of workplace incivility at Canada Post. Furthermore, incivility was linked to anxiety, depression and hostility – which was lowered when workers reported greater support from co-workers.

This research study is important because it tells us that having the support of others can make a person’s adverse experiences at work less stressful or damaging. Of course, the real take-away message is that organizations need to move towards a corporate culture valuing worker engagement and health, with “zero tolerance” for incivility. More research is needed to better understand workplace interactions and mental health in the service sector in Canada, and in other occupations as well.

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