Catherine Costigan

Catherine Costigan
Office: COR A170

Ph.D. 1996 (Michigan State) joined Department in 1998

Area of expertise

Clinical psychology

My research and clinical interests focus on children, youth, and their families. My goal is to enhance our understanding of the strengths that family members bring to navigating challenging circumstances and the experiences that create risk for mental health problems among family members. I also explore ways in which relationships within families affect and are affected by individual and contextual challenges. I have studied these issues among different populations, including families raising children with intellectual disabilities and families who are new to Canada.

Some of our recent research has focused on topics such as understanding the ways in which immigrant parents support the identity development of their adolescents; understanding how acculturation process influence the ability of immigrant mothers and fathers to co-parent together effectively; and identifying relationship dynamics (such as adolescents providing translation services for their immigrant parents) that affect the psychological health of youth. We are also studying ways in which differences between family members in how they acculturate to Canada influences relationship quality and mental health among adolescents and their parents. We also study these family relationships in the broader context of settlement in Canada, to understand family members’ experience of discrimination and other oppressive practices.

I am currently investigating strengths-based approaches to supporting well-being within immigrant and refugee families, including evaluating community workshops designed to build on existing family relationship strengths during the settlement process.  These workshops are designed to identify and extend resilience within immigrant and refugee families, including attention to sustaining emotional connections, fostering positive parenting approaches, and empowering families to navigate and oppose oppression. In collaboration with the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society, I am also identifying best practices for promoting the social integration of refugee families into the local community for the mutual benefit of both the new and existing families. Both efforts include a recognition of social inequities and oppressive attitudes that create barriers for newcomer families, as well as an understanding of nuanced family dynamics across different developmental periods in the family lifecycle.

Finally, in a separate line of research, I am investigating community-based treatment of individuals with severe mental health conditions. This project includes understanding organizational supports to address secondary traumatic stress among the health care team. We are also investigating the impact of police officer integration on Assertive Community Treatment teams. More generally, I am interested in the intersection of mental health and law enforcement and in identifying best practices, at individual and systemic levels, for supporting vulnerable individuals in the community.



  • Family psychology
  • Immigration and acculturation
  • Mental health and mental illness
  • Well-being in the context of structural risk and oppression


Faces of UVic Research video

In this video, Catherine talks about her research on the adaptation of Chinese families after immigrating to Canada.

Recent Representative Publications

Costigan, C. L. (2022). Factors within families and their ecological contexts that shape their health and well being: A Legacy Chapter. In J.J.W. Andrews, S. R. Shaw, J. F. Domene, & C. McMorris, Editors. Mental Health Assessment, Prevention, and Intervention: Promoting Child and Youth Well-Being. Springer Nature, Switzerland. ISBN: 978-3-030-97207-3

Quan, C., Costigan, C. L., & Kobayashi, K. (2022). Ethnic and national identity development processes: The role of cultural behaviors and gender. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 28(1), 1 - 12.

Costigan, C. L., Taknint, J. T., Mudryk, E., & Al Qudayri, B. (2022). Building community: Connecting refugee and Canadian families. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 28(3), 338 - 348.

Costigan, C. L., Woodin, E., Duerksen, K. & Ferguson, R. (2022). A qualitative study of the benefits and drawbacks of police integration onto Assertive Community Treatment teams. Psychiatric Services, 73(4), 447 - 566. DOI: 10.1176/