February 2022 Trainee Spotlight
Name of Supervisor: Dr. Suzanne King
Name of Co-Supervisors: Dr. Bianca D’Antono
Degree: Graduate Student – PhD
Year of Study: Year 3
Program of Study: PhD in Psychology Research and Intervention
Why did you choose to come to the Douglas?
First of all, the environment around the Douglas has always made me dream, I had a secret ambition of one day setting foot there as a professional. Then during the summer of 2017, I did an internship in Dr. Laurence Roy’s team and that’s when I saw Dr. King’s office at the end of the corridor on the 3rd floor of the Perry. Like a mirage, two things immediately struck me. First, Project Ice intrigued me enormously since the impact of the stress of the pregnant woman and her fetus was a focal point in my thinking at work. Indeed, since 2011 I have been accompanying couples or single women (doula) at birth, which gives me a clinical vision of pregnancy and childbirth, but above all, which at the time made me think a lot on the ongoing processes during childbirth. So I saw that Dr. King’s work would be fertile ground to build a project between my thoughts as a doula and my desires for research in psychology on childbirth. Secondly, I felt so caught up in Dr. King and the Ice Storm Project, which I myself gave birth to during the 1998 ice storm, 23 years ago now.
What did you do before coming to the Douglas?
I was a performing artist, then a doula. I decided at some point to respond to my strong intellectual need, as well as my desire to push further some of my knowledge and skills in the field of perinatal care. I went back to do a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Montreal in parallel with the work of a doula, then I joined graduate studies in research with Dr. King in 2018.
Sell your research in 3 sentences
My research is intended to be the beginning of an answer to questions present in my work environment, by the way, questions that are just as contemporary in the research environment. Oxytocin is a very “in” hormone, especially for its clinical use to reduce autism symptoms. It becomes very relevant to observe it upstream, by verifying the effect of its use during childbirth, and this in synergy with the epidural, on the development of autistic traits in the child, especially in a situation where the woman’s body is “challenged” by the stress induced by a natural disaster (see Dr. King’s methodology).
What excites you most about your research?
Learning and discovering new things! These are two things that I really like. Understanding the mechanisms of the body fascinates me and it is even more stimulating to do so in a research community. I feel that my supervisors still have so much to show me, and that I still have so much to discover at the pace of the research community to which we are connected.
If you could go back in time what would you do differently?
Oh my… what a question! It’s completely impossible as a desire… but I would like to be able to bring in the past a more “ecological” awareness of our actions. That our propensity to see life as a chain of action-reaction events is altered, to understand instead that everything is related in a more holistic way. But, the action-reaction vision has led to so many discoveries, that it becomes a paradox!
Do you have any additional experiences or advice that you’d like to share with prospective Douglas trainees?
I am truly honoured to be part of the Douglas community. I feel supported, well surrounded and valued. As much as I like the physical place and affects my appreciation, the solidity of the research carried out by the researchers is a lever to my motivation in my studies. Finally, participating in student life at the Douglas is a plus that should not be overlooked!