" I chose to come to SFU because of the university’s commitment to research and innovation, and the option to focus my training and learning on child and family mental health (i.e., child clinical track). "

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Laura Daari

January 15, 2024

Clinical Psychology master's student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Tell us a little about yourself, including what inspires you to learn and continue in your chosen field

My name is Laura Daari and I am a second-year master’s student in the clinical child psychology program at SFU. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in psychology (Hons) from Toronto Metropolitan University. My inspiration to pursue research in the field of child clinical psychology stems from my deep curiosity about the intricate interplay between cognitive, emotional, and social factors which can shape child, adolescent, and family wellbeing. Within my academic pursuits, I am actively engaged in a combination of research and clinical work. This dual approach has provided the opportunity to develop a comprehensive understanding of the theoretical foundations and practical applications that contribute to mental wellness and it also drives my passion to support child and family wellbeing.

Why did you choose to come to SFU?

I chose to come to SFU because of the university’s commitment to research and innovation, and the option to focus my training and learning on child and family mental health (i.e., child clinical track). Notably, the prospect of closely collaborating with Dr. Marlene Moretti, who serves as my senior supervisor, was particularly intriguing for me. Dr. Moretti (Canada Research Chair in Youth Clinical Psychological Science) has profound expertise in research areas which align with my interests, including attachment, emotion regulation, and parenting-adolescent relationships. I am continually learning from her vast knowledge.

How would you describe your research or your program to a family member?

My research aims to enhance the mental well-being of teenagers and improve the quality of relationships and emotional connections between parents and their adolescents. Beyond individual dynamics, my research considers broader societal factors such as gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, utilizing an intersectional framework to understand their impact. I am particularly interested in helping teens who experience risk and promoting the development of parenting interventions which can promote optimal caregiving practices. Ultimately, my overarching goal is to promote resilience and well-being among teenagers navigating the complexities of adolescence.

What three (3) keywords would you use to describe your research?

emotion regulation; reflective functioning; parent-adolescent relationships 

How have your courses, RA-ships, TA-ships, or non-academic school experiences contributed to your academic and/or professional development?

My coursework has been instrumental in building a strong theoretical foundation and understanding of various therapeutic methods. I have had the opportunity to explore diverse subjects, from psychopathology to advanced interventions, all of which has broadened my knowledge and equipped me with skills needed for real-world clinical work. Additionally, working as a teaching assistant has allowed me to guide fellow students in their learning journey and reinforced my commitment to sharing knowledge and providing mentorship. Beyond the classroom, mentorship during my clinical practicum has also been an invaluable aspect of my professional growth. Working closely with experienced mentors has provided me with practical insights and guidance in navigating the complexities of clinical practice. This hands-on experience has allowed me to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios, enhancing my clinical skills and decision-making abilities.

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

In 2023, I was a recipient of the Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master's (CGS-M), an award that acknowledges and aids students exhibiting academic accomplishments and research potential. Beyond monetary support, being awarded a CGS-M award has provided a great deal of encouragement and reminded me that with dedication and hard work, I can attain my research and clinical goals.

What have been the most valuable lessons you've learned along your graduate student journey (or in becoming a graduate student)?

I have learned that adaptability is important factor when faced with the various challenges inherent in graduate studies. Balancing academic demands, clinical placements, and personal responsibilities requires engagement in self-care and stress management. My experiences have reinforced the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance and seeking support when needed.

How do you approach networking and building connections in and outside of your academic community?

I am committed to a multifaceted networking approach that extends in and outside of the academic community. Firstly, I have found attending conferences and professional development seminars to provide a beneficial connection to colleagues with similar research interests, an avenue to meet mentors, and to learn about relevant new research. Also, engaging with faculty members in my department has provided guidance, advice, and a supportive academic environment. Additionally, I use the platform ResearchGate to disseminate my research articles, exchange ideas with other researchers, and find relevant research articles in my area. Outside of the academic community, I am an active participant in the Jewish community in the greater Vancouver area. For example, I am a member of a young Jewish professional group which plans social and religious events. This experience has provided me with an opportunity to learn the values of community, connection, and helping others. I have also developed professional connections with young professionals in the community.

What are some tips for balancing your academic and personal life?

Balancing personal and academic life can pose challenging without proper organization and a self-care routine in place. Since recently becoming a new mother, I have found the development of a structured scheduled, which includes dedicated times for research, coursework, clinical duties, and childcare, is paramount. Staying organized can help to alleviate stress and ensure the best use of time. Additionally, not being afraid to ask for help when needed from mentors, friends, and family can help provide emotional support, childcare, and relevant advice.

If you could dedicate your research to anyone (past, present and/or future), who would that be and why?

Many people have supported my academic and research pursuits, making it challenging to dedicate my research to just one individual. Instead, I will list a few important figures in my life and how they have touched me. First and foremost, I am eternally grateful for my husband’s love, support, and encouragement. A staunch supporter of all my dreams (even the silly ones!), an active listener, a best friend, a shoulder to cry on, and so much more, I am so thankful for him. Additionally, I am extremely grateful for the love and support I receive from my family. In specific, I extend gratitude to my mother for all her support and love, and the sacrifices she made to help me develop into the person I am today. There are no words! I have also been privileged to work alongside many wonderful mentors who have helped to guide and shape my research interests, academic writing abilities, and nurtured my intellectual growth. Forming lasting connections, these mentors have not only shared their expertise but have also provided a personal touch that transcends traditional mentorship. These mentors include but are not limited to Dr. Karen Milligan and Dr. Marlene Moretti. Thank you for your invaluable guidance and unwavering support.


Contact Laura:laura_daari@sfu.ca

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