Webinar: PROmoting Resilience During GRADuate School and Beyond (PRO-GRAD): A Motivational Coaching Intervention for Graduate Students

Flower has grown in arid cracked barren soil
October 12, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

University-based mentorship programs have been associated with career enhancement, personal development, stress reduction, resilience promotion, and kindness, to name only a few benefits. Promoting strategies for stress-reduction and resilience-enhancement among graduate students can support their success in many areas of their lives and this is especially important in the current climate. There are unique stressors associated with being a graduate student; namely research funding, research projects, teaching assistantships, completing course work, and the pressure to publish. Such stressors can lead to negative health consequences including burnout and suppression of the immune system and might deplete students’ resilience.

In this webinar, Dr. Jennifer Irwin and PhD student Katie Shillington will share preliminary findings from an ongoing study where they are assessing the impact of a motivational coaching, resilience-promoting peer mentorship program on the resilience, mental health, quality of life, compassion, and social support of graduate students at Western University. Western is the first university in Canada to offer a credited motivational coaching course to graduate students. While other Canadian universities offer courses in motivational interviewing, none utilize the novel motivational coaching approach and in a peer mentorship offering. In this webinar you will learn:

  • A brief overview of the PRO-GRAD project
  • Preliminary findings regarding the resilience, mental health, quality of life, compassion, and social support of graduate students at Western University
  • Next steps for PRO-GRAD

Speakers: Dr Jennifer Irwin, PhD and Katie Shillington, BHSc, MSc, PhD Student

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Dr. Jennifer Irwin is a health behaviourist and Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University. She is a multi-award-winning teacher at the Faculty, University, and Provincial levels and widely published researcher. She is passionate about kindness, collaboration, and each of us doing our part to support one another. In addition to her new line of inquiry on kindness as a stress-management and resilience tool, her research focusses primarily on the application of motivational interviewing and coaching on health-related behaviours, including obesity prevention and treatment, tobacco cessation, stress management, and the promotion of physical activity and healthy dietary intake behaviours.



Katie is a second-year doctoral student in the Health Promotion stream of the Health and Rehabilitations Sciences graduate program at Western University. Her program of research involves resilience-promoting behaviours toward positive mental health. These behaviours tend to focus on kindness, prosocial behaviours, and other coping strategies during challenging times.