Dr. Elaine Greidanus

A Heart for Helping

Dr. Elaine Greidanus’s fondness for kayaking and camping stems from her love of the outdoors. “I have a real heart for rural people and places,” says the counsellor and psychologist who spent several years in northern Alberta, often utilizing animal-assisted therapies in her work with children and adolescents.

  The collaboration so key to Greidanus’s working philosophy is not limited to four-legged associates. An advocate of inter-professional education and community-based approaches to health care, she researches how physicians, nurses, mental health specialists, and allied health professionals can work ethically together with families for the benefit of everyone. “It overlaps with my interest in rural work,” she says. “When you’re in the middle of nowhere you have to rely on your team.”

     Greidanus is passionate about respecting how FNMI and rural communities would like their mental health challenges addressed. “The stories of the issues they face and their strength and resilience in working together to overcome them inspire me,” she says. 

     Complementing Greidanus’s rural focus is an interest in online counselling. Before social networking became ubiquitous, she investigated how young people in distress use the Internet to search for help. She noted that connections people made online often resulted in networks of mutual support. Her study promoted awareness among professionals of a growing trend to seek web-based assistance. As she continues to research the Internet’s role in therapeutic processes Greidanus realizes the benefits technology offers education and health care – particularly in rural areas where resources are slim.

     Today, as an instructor in the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education Master of Counselling and Master of Counselling Psychology programs, Dr. Greidanus combines face-to-face and online teaching. “I care very much about the quality of counsellors graduating from this program,” she states. “I’m interested in maintaining that standard by teaching counselling effectively online.” She points to a need for more counsellors in rural areas and the difficulty of getting people to relocate. “Through quality distance education those already living there could complete the program and stay to serve their communities.” 

Writer: Elizabeth McLachlan
Photographer: Rob Olson


For more information contact:

Darcy Tamayose
Communications Officer
Dean's Office
Faculty of Education
(403) 332-4550