In a brief Q&A interview with ECPS Department’s Communication office, CNPS Doctoral Candidate, Karolina Rozworska tells us about her academic trajectory, her research, and where she plans to lead. Following are Karolina’s answers to our questions.
Can you tell us a bit about your Ph.D. research focus?
CNPS Doctoral Candidate, Karolina Rozworska, is researching the use of emotion coaching by mothers whose daughters have eating disorders such as anorexia and bulima nervosa. Emotion coaching is a response style that normalizes feelings and communicates that emotions are worth paying attention to and can be regulated effectively. Research has shown that when parents practice this method, their children perform higher in many areas of life. This emotion coaching dissertation research, being conducted through eating disorder clinics across the lower mainland of B.C., explores the degree to which emotional coaching can be used as a tool for parents to manage their child’s emotion regarding eating and help their child to regulate these emotions. Under the supervision of Drs. Richard Young and Dan Cox, Karolina hopes that knowing which maternal characteristics are associated with the use of emotion coaching can help to better support mothers’ efforts, as the accepted gold-standard treatment for youth with eating disorders requires extensive parental involvement. Eating disorder is a particularly challenging situation for parents, as they must play an active role in their children’s treatment.
How did you arrive at this research topic?
Since her time at McGill University, where she completed a Master’s degree in counselling Psychology, Karolina has been interested in the role emotions play in social and psychological functioning. Her Master’s research explored emotion regulation skills in anorexia nervosa. Subsequently, Karolina learned about emotion-focused family therapy (EFFT), a relatively new treatment approach that teaches emotion coaching to parents. A number of eating disorders programs in the Lower Mainland were adding elements of EFFT to their treatment, and Karolina identified both an opportunity and a need to better understand how emotion coaching is used in families coping with childhood eating disorders. Karolina began to wonder if there were any factors that determined which moms used emotion coaching instinctively and if a mother’s own stress level, emotion regulation skills, or anxiety influences the use of EFFT. Is there a relationship between how mothers are doing psychologically and how likely they are to use emotion coaching with their children? Do they need additional support to undertake such an approach to treatment? In treatment, the patient is considered the primary focus and the support team is often assumed to be okay. In the case of childhood eating disorder, however, parents are also affected, in particular parents of children with eating disorders report higher stress, anxiety, depression, and caregiver burden.
What do you hope can come from your findings and where to next?
Through her research, Karolina hopes to outline aspects of mothers’ functioning related to their use of emotion coaching and better define what mothers need to support their efforts. Karolina has a strong passion for the public health care sector and she would like to continue to work with patients experiencing mental illness. Ideally, Karolina would like to find a way to do both clinical work and program and service development from a systemic perspective, advocating for more psychotherapy in the public health care system. Karolina is open to following her work wherever it may take her next.
Good luck in your next endeavors, Karolina! Thank you for your hard work and diligence within ECPS and the University of British Columbia.