This winter Asaly joined the Men’s Health Research team as a PhD student. Asaly is from Vancouver and is completing her PhD at the University of Edinburgh. Her PhD is focused on childhood sexual abuse among men.

I caught up with Asaly for a quick Q&A to learn more about her life and research:

GM: Can you tell me a little bit about your academic background?

AS: Yes! I’m a PhD student in Clinical Psychology from the University of Edinburgh, and am working on my project in collaboration with UBC. The focus of my PhD is on childhood sexual abuse (CSA) among men. I completed an Masters in Psychology of Education from the University of Manchester. And years ago, I finished a B.A. in Classics from UBC, which is quite different from what I’m doing now!

GM: Amazing. You mentioned you are currently researching CSA among men, can you tell me a little bit more about that?

AS: Right now, I’m interested in looking at resilience and disclosure in CSA, particularly in men. I think it could negatively impact both men and women, but there is very little research on men, and there seems to be less awareness and acceptance for this group.

I’m also looking into people’s psychosexual development, and how adverse childhood experiences can affect that. It’s interesting because there is some research out there on sexual dysfunction in men, but very little looks into their psychosexual development and CSA. It’s fascinating how people express themselves sexually; I think a lot can be said about that, however taboo it may be.

GM: What are your research interests and how have they evolved throughout your career?

AS: I have many research interests! I’ve always been quite interested in the concept of resilience. It’s hard to pinpoint what it is, but I think all of us have seen it in ourselves and in others. If there were some way of understanding it better so we could instill it in programs for children, well, that would be ideal.

GM: Can you tell me a little bit about the work you will be doing with MHR in the coming months?

AS: So far, I’m looking at the research on caveats and complexities of men’s health help-seeking. I’m currently working on a scoping review with John Oliffe.

GM: What led you to pursue your current work?

AS: In terms of psychology, I’ve always wondered why we behave the way we do and what leads us to act in certain ways. My mother is a counselling psychologist, so I’ve always had that exposure.

In terms of men’s mental health, I think there isn’t enough research on it. I guess I’ve always found it funny how differently my male vs. female group of friends deal with emotional situations, and I think a lot of it has to do with there being less room for men to express themselves. This is especially unfortunate when it comes to childhood trauma. I think if we really want equality among genders, we have to help and encourage emotional expression in both men and women.

GM: Now we’ll switch things up a bit. What are your interests outside of work and research?

AS: I’m pretty much a typical Vancouverite: I love sports and exercise. I do a lot of it, but I don’t have a specific one I’m a pro at! I also love traveling and learning languages.

GM: Thanks for sharing all of that with us, we’re so happy to have you join us at MHR. Now one final question, can you tell me one fun fact about yourself?

AS: Hm, well, I once took part in a competition that involved dunking your head in the water on your kayak without capsizing. I won!

I should add, though, that only two of us were willing to participate!