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Student Profile: Kevin Berry
Counselling Psychology master's student in the Faculty of Education
I am a second-year Masters of Counselling Psychology student, beginning telehealth counselling in Fall 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to becoming beginning my journey as a counselling therapist, I completed degrees in computer science and jazz piano. I am endlessly fascinated by relationship dynamics (particularly in the healing arts) and how enduring personal change occurs.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?
My decision to choose SFU for graduate studies in Counselling Psychology was fueled by what I saw as an exciting opportunity to be supervised by Dr. Heesoon Bai, whose research on implementing mindfulness practice within school curriculum was well-aligned with my interest in incorporating mindfulness practices in counselling settings. Unbeknownst to me, SFU’s Counselling Psychology program also admits only a dozen students each year, and this intimate cohort has been an incredible source of support and camaraderie as we journey together through the pandemic and beyond.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?
Apart from what a client themselves brings to the counselling relationship (e.g., their unique strengths, their dedication, their social supports), the client’s perspective of the therapeutic relationship–how connected the client feels to the therapist the client’s perception of how well the two collaborate on shared goals and tasks of therapy–is the strongest predictor of therapeutic success. As with any relationship, each person exerts an influence on the other, and while the focus of therapy is to support clients in their healing journey, it is often suggested by master therapists that clients are our best teachers. My research, while still under development, seeks to explore how a therapist’s own growth as a result of the counselling relationship can be used to support the client’s growth and therapeutic outcomes.
WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?
I have been very fortunate that my supervisor Dr. Heesoon Bai has been incredibly welcoming as I find my voice as a Masters student and counsellor–she has invited me to co-author publications with her, included me in the Contemplative Studies Collective, supported my SSHRC proposal and submission, and she has been a reliable and generous reference for various applications I have made during my studies. Furthermore, I have felt extremely supported by the Graduate Writing Team, by the Thesis Bootcamp community, and by many course instructors and Teaching Assistant supervisors.
HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.
I was a recipient of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Joseph Armand Bombardier CGS-M scholarship for the 2020-2021 academic year. This scholarship has helped fund research materials unavailable through the SFU library and it has allowed me to focus my time and efforts towards developing a robust thesis proposal to support future research.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PROGRAM/POSTDOC POSITION TO SOMEONE STILL SEARCHING FOR A PROGRAM OR POSTDOC POSITION?
Simon Fraser University’s Counselling Psychology program ensures that there is a mere dozen individuals in each year, which makes for an intimate cohort and very approachable professors. SFU is dedicated to ensuring students have access to funding opportunities through Teaching Assistanceships (across four semesters, I’ve been offered placements in all but one semester) and scholarship opportunities. Finally, the Graduate Writing Team and other writing supports have been invaluable assets to my own development. For those reasons alone, I would happily recommend SFU for future Counselling Psychology Masters students.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?
Congratulations to all award recipients, and all the best to potential future SFU students.
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