Statements of Focus

This section is the bulk of my portfolio. My statements of focus can be thought of the major themes I worked with in my degree. These were themes that emerged from papers I have written, projects I have worked on, presentations I have given, and other scholarly and life work.

Statement of Focus: Knowledge translation is the bridge that connects people with mental illnesses to greatly needed evidence-based and meaningful information.

As a person living with bipolar disorder and an academic, I know first-hand how little evidence-based information is available to people who are struggling with mental health and mental illness. In my Master’s degree, my top priority was to address the question of how to get this information to these people who need it. But, there’s an obstacle: Many people are not research literate, nor do they have access to research related to their health. So I began to think outside the box in terms of how I could take what I know as an academic, merge it with my lived experience of mental illness, and create a useful product.

Several products came out of my degree. My first artifact is a podcast I created about taking medication for mental illness that incorporated knowledge translated medical ideas blended with tips I have learned in my journey. My second artifact is a series of illustrations I created because I wanted to draw what the research process is like in bipolar research; the first illustration begins with my own perspective of how I view my bipolar, and finishes with what knowledge translation might look like if one were to draw it. I realized it is somewhat of a meta creation, as it explains knowledge translation while also being a knowledge translation product.

My third artifact is a public talk I gave for the “Me Too” Conversation series in Vancouver, BC. It is an example of one of my favourite ways to bring research into the community; I am an avid public speaker and have found this avenue an entertaining and educating experience.

My last artifacts go hand-in-hand with each other. Though I did a theory to practice degree, I also did research on my own time. I presented at the International Society for Bipolar Disorders Conference in May, 2017. I gave a presentation about what it’s like being a researcher and someone who has bipolar, and how this has an immense capacity to create more accurate information that can be more accurately translated into consumer products. I subsequently had my abstract published on this topic.

For more work that I have done in the area of knowledge translation, you can look at the “academic” category of my blog on this website by clicking here.

Statement of Focus: Therapeutic relationships need to be reframed from a transdisciplinary perspective.

Focusing on therapeutic relationships was not something I intended to study — rather, I only realized it was a major theme of my degree whilst talking to my psychiatrist. It was a slow realization, but a profound one; therapeutic relationships need to be analyzed in more depth and from non-clinical perspectives.

My first piece in this series is a paper I wrote about “refreshing” therapeutic relationships. I followed theory by Lev Vygotsky and implemented some of his concepts like the zone of proximal development, which was central in my thesis: Therapeutic relationships are partnerships where both practitioner and client learn from one another. I compared some Vygotskian concepts to motivational interviewing for a comparison, and I used a narrative example to tell a story of how both theoretical lenses would explain two characters interacting with each other.

In my second artifact, I examine the role of language in a psychiatrist-patient relationships — specifically, my own. As someone who has experienced many “therapeutic” relationships over time, it has only been recently that I could truly say I am in a therapeutic relationship. My paper largely explores semantics and metaphor, with a large focus on presenting a small case study to complement theory. As in my previous paper, I also use a Vygotskian lens to suggest a new approach to therapeutic relationships and dialogue to elucidate research and provide a new template for engaging in this topic.

My final artifact is a poster from a speaking engagement held at Vancouver General Hospital in April, 2017. The event was called “Me and My Doc Talks” and was designed by a peer support worker who has also experienced an authentic therapeutic relationship with her previous psychiatrist. I was invited alongside my psychiatrist to give a talk about a topic of our choosing. We decided to talk about therapeutic relationships and how to think differently about them. It ties into my academic work perfectly; this talk was essentially the theory to practice event I had always wanted to participate in. Unfortunately, there was no recording of the event, but I will conclude with an anonymous quotation from an audience member:

“You emphasized the ‘care’ in healthcare. We don’t think about that enough.”