My passion for social justice, advocacy, and critical theory was sparked at the University of Toronto where I received an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies and English (2000). From there, I journeyed to Wilfrid Laurier University to complete my MSW degree, specializing in individuals, families, and groups (2002). I then worked in Toronto-based hospital and community mental health settings, providing counselling to and coordinating services for youth, adults, and elderly people. Because of my interest in research, I returned to Laurier’s Faculty of Social Work to pursue doctoral studies with a focus on gender and health (2015). Afterwards, I undertook a one-year postdoctoral fellowship in the Psychology Department at the University of Toronto (2016). Prior to joining the BSW team at Laurier Brantford, I worked as a sessional instructor in Social Work at both Renison University College and the University of Windsor.
For my dissertation study, I explored the healthcare experiences of men and women with fibromyalgia, a chronic condition of unknown origin. I was motivated to research this topic as a result of having coordinated home healthcare services for people with fibromyalgia and encountering with them the discrimination they experienced in the healthcare system. My research combined interviews and focus groups, with an arts-based research method called body-map storytelling, whereby participants created life-size self-portraits to narrate their healthcare journeys. In collaboration with community stakeholders, I held community art galleries in Toronto, Kitchener and London in order to display the body maps with the objective of increasing social awareness about disability.
During my postdoctoral fellowship, I continued to explore the intersections of gender and health by researching masculinities and cancer risk. Specifically, in collaboration with researchers at the Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Women’s Health (University of Toronto) and the Male Oncology Research and Education Program (Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre), I conducted a qualitative study investigating the ways in which being at risk for male breast and prostate cancer shaped men’s identities.
My current program of research focuses on: (a) the development and evaluation of community-based pedagogies and (b) the application of creative arts in social work practice. I am principal investigator on two research studies:
1. Examining Intimate Partner Violence Survivors’ Experiences with Group Art Therapy: A Community-Based Study
2: Health-based Integrated Pedagogy: A Model of Community Collaboration in Social Work and Health Care Education
The Yellow Brick Wall, an art gallery space at Laurier Brantford, is currently exhibiting research participants' body maps from the dissertation study. Please see this link for further information: https://www.wlu.ca/information-for/community-members/galleries/news/2019/michelle-skop-its-not-a-journey-its-a-struggle
I would be delighted to speak to and supervise undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in social work research about pedagogy, arts-based research methodologies, and gender and health.
Cait, C.A., Skop, M., Booton, J., Stalker, C.A., Horton, S., & Riemer, M. (2016). Practice based qualitative research: Participant experiences of walk-in counselling and traditional counselling. Qualitative Social Work. doi: 10.1177/1473325016637910
Skop, M. (2016). The art of body mapping: A methodological guide for social work researchers. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 28(4), 29-43.
Skop, M., Lorentz, J., Jassi, M., Vesprini, D. & Einstein, G. (2018). “Guys don’t have breasts”: The lived experience of men who have BRCA gene mutations and are at risk for male breast cancer. American Journal of Men’s Health, 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1177/1557988317753241
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