Ponti, Paloma

Project title: Perspectives on the Role of Counselling in Social Change and Activism

Department: Gender Studies

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Sikata Banerjee

"While there are various theories on how social change occurs, many agree that social justice is a collective project requiring systemic structural change that extends beyond individual responsibility. But what does it mean to bring a social justice lens into counselling, arguably a field that focuses on change within the individual? In my proposed JCURA research, I will review literature written on the development of social justice counselling and its differing approaches over the past two decades. My review will address both the broad parameters of incorporating a social justice approach and will look specifically at the role of counselling in addressing rape culture, ending sexualized violence and supporting survivors. In addition, I will conduct interviews with a small number of practicing social justice counsellors in the Victoria area to gain insights into the practical and theoretical place of individual growth, empowerment and healing within a wider social justice agenda. A key part of both streams of my research will be to understand the implications of a social justice approach from the counsellors’ perspectives on clients’ and counsellors’ roles in activism."