Alumni Profile Brittany Lasanen

Associate Degree in Arts: Focus in Psychology, Douglas College, 2013
BA (Hons) Psychology; Extended Minor in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, SFU, 2018
MA in Counselling Psychology, UBC, 2022

Connect with Brittany on LinkedIn

1. What/where are you currently studying?? / Which jobs or careers have you held during/since the completion of your Psychology degree up until now?

I’m completing an MA in Counselling Psychology at UBC. I have completed my coursework and am working as a practicum student at Lavender Counselling in Langley and writing my thesis. My first year at UBC, I was a paid research assistant working on Dr. Pat Mirenda’s Parent and Child Early Coaching Project. This position included viewing and coding videos of children who were at-risk for autism spectrum disorder interacting with their caregivers. Last year and this year, I have been a clinic coordinator at the Psychological Services and Counselling Training Centre at UBC. In this role, I reach out to agencies about client referrals and conduct intake interviews with potential clients to assess their concerns and fit for counselling with our Counselling Psychology MA and PhD students.

2. Why did you decide to study psychology?

At Douglas College, I became fascinated with non-fiction about romantic relationships. I learned that romantic relationships can be viewed from multiple theories and that while they can be source of happiness, connection, and personal growth, they can also be stifling, conflict ridden, or violent. The books I read opened my eyes to the complexity of interpersonal relationships. I wanted to learn more about how relationships impact people’s well-being, as well as how to help couples navigate distressful periods in their relationships and strengthen their bonds. I transferred to SFU to gain research experience in Dr. Rebecca Cobb’s Couples Lab and learn more about these issues by taking coursework in close relationships, sexuality, and couple therapy.

3. What were your favourite courses / who were your favourite professors at SFU psychology? / What do you recall most strongly from your time at SFU?

My favourite courses were close relationships, human sexuality, and couple therapy. I took most of these courses with Dr. Rebecca Cobb, who eventually became my honours supervisor. We conducted research on how individuals maintain their relationship satisfaction and personal well-being while living long-distance from a romantic partner.

Our manuscript is currently under review for publication and Dr. Cobb and I continue to collaborate on my MA thesis and conference presentations.

My SFU experience was also enriched by being an engagement programming assistant, teaching assistant, and peer mentor. I was Psychology’s first Engagement Programming Assistant and was proud to establish the Psychology Research Lab Fair to connect students and research labs. Furthermore, I created a webpage to recognize and feature the research being conducted by our psychology undergrads. I was surprised to find out how much I enjoyed being a teaching assistant and how rewarding it was to inspire and support students’ learning of research methods. As a FASS peer mentor, I had a lot of fun meeting with my mentees to talk about academics and life.

4. What did you originally plan to do with your degree in psychology during your undergrad, if you had any ideas at that time? Is that different than what you do now? If so, how?

My time at SFU catalyzed my interests in romantic relationships and couple therapy. I’m exploring and learning more about being a couple counsellor by taking workshops in sex therapy and emotionally focused therapy for couples.

Near the end of my SFU degree, I volunteered at the Women Against Violence Against Women’s (WAVAW) sexual assault crisis line. This experience motivated me to learn more about trauma and I completed workshops on trauma-informed practice last summer.

I am supporting clients with trauma in my practicum and hope to complete a fellowship in 2022 that will allow me to start seeing couples while also receiving supervision and training for this work.

The biggest change in my plans since undergrad is that I no longer plan on pursuing a PhD. I am grateful for all that I have learned about research but would now rather focus on becoming a Registered Clinical Counsellor and joining a group practice where I work with individuals and couples.

5. How did your time at SFU change you and influence your career?

I would not be in a MA Counselling Psychology Program without the support of Psychology faculty, labs, and staff. Choosing a program was difficult, and I am grateful to faculty members and the undergraduate advisor for helping me explore my options and narrow down my choices. Most graduate programs require at least three references, some of these being academic, and I was connected to potential referees through the years I spent as a research assistant and by taking upper level coursework in psychology. It was essential to connect with faculty members that could speak to my strengths, skills, and fit for graduate programs. The graduate school application process is long and complicated and being a member of a lab that supported students through the process made it significantly easier. In the lab, we reviewed CVs, personal statements, grant documents, and were offered mock interviews. These workshops drastically improved my application materials and made me feel more confident going into interviews.

6. What advice would you give to students that you wish you knew in your undergrad? / What was important to you then and what’s important now?

During COVID, it’s especially important to be patient and compassionate toward ourselves, lean on others, and build connections wherever possible. Being a student is tough and stressful but becoming involved with the SFU community can help. I’m still friends with many of the students I met in research labs and they were a huge source of emotional support throughout my undergrad. Undergrad was a great time to explore what helped me succeed and cope with being a student (e.g., Pomodoros, music, walks, one-on-one chats, mindfulness, writing groups) and I continue to experiment with what helps me manage life and thrive.