Heather B. MacIntosh, Associate Professor

Dr. Heather B. MacIntosh comes to the School of Social Work from the University of Ottawa where she was a part-time professor in the Education Faculty Counselling programme and the Social Sciences Faculty department of Psychology and Clinical Psychology. Prior to this, Heather worked at St. Paul University for three years in the Counselling and Spirituality programme. She has been teaching at the university level for over ten years and has a real passion for engaging with students in both classroom and clinical supervision settings. Heather is a Clinical Psychologist who specializes in working clinically with individuals, couples and families in the context of trauma. She was also the Registrar for Accreditation for the Canadian Psychological Association. This blend of academic, clinical and administrative work is particularly appealing to her and motivated her pursuit of a full time academic appointment. Heather has a particular interest in Couple and Family Therapy and has been hired to work with Dr. Sharon Bond to implement the Couple and Family Therapy programme when it begins. In terms of research, she is particularly interested in applied clinical research into couple and family interventions with a focus on the needs of childhood trauma survivors within systemic therapies. As a result of the trauma, childhood trauma survivors often need particular help in managing the emotional intensity of therapy and this can be a real challenge in couple and family therapy contexts. Heather is also interested in examining the experience of same sex marriage and family relationships and looking at the specific needs of LGBT persons in couple and family therapy settings.

Please click here to view Dr. MacIntosh's full curriculum vitae.

Author of Developmental Couple Therapy for Complex Trauma


Research Interests

Dr. MacIntosh’s research interests fall into the area of trauma and dissociation.  In particular, she is interested in the impact of childhood trauma on emotion regulation and mentalizing and how these impact couple relationships and the process of couple therapy, as well as the impact of personal trauma on psychotherapists in their work.  A recent addition to her research work is the inclusion of creative arts in the healing process for trauma survivors.

Currently, Dr. MacIntosh is in the piloting stage of research for a new model of couple therapy for childhood trauma survivors, Developmental Couple Therapy for Complex Trauma.  This model integrates an understanding of the developmental impact of childhood trauma on the capacity of survivors to regulate their emotions and to mentalizing and how these relate to being able to develop and maintain healthy couple relationships.  Additionally, this model incorporates the development of these capacities into the couple therapy process to improve the psychological wellbeing of the individuals within the couple, to enhance the capacity of the couple to fully engage and benefit from the couple therapy process and, in the end, to improve the satisfaction and intimacy within the couple relationship.

Another ongoing project is in the area of examining the experience of personal trauma in the lives of psychotherapists working in the area of psychoanalysis.  This qualitative project has involved interviewing 45 practicing clinicians about their personal histories and the impact of these histories on the work as psychotherapists.

More recently, Dr. MacIntosh developed a collaboration with Dr. Jean-Sebastien Vallée, Director of Choral Music at McGill University and they are in the process of recruiting participants for a choir that will explore the experience of singing in a choir for childhood trauma survivors.  This exciting project will take place in the Fall of 2016.

Other ongoing collaborations include providing research support to the ongoing clinical work of the Cedar Centre, a trauma treatment centre in Ontario as well as other trauma focused projects related to the impact of trauma on individuals and relationships.

Dr. MacIntosh welcomes those who are interested in volunteering in her research lab to gain experience in any of the above areas. Currently, she has opportunities for individuals with couple therapy experience who are interested in transcribing couple therapy sessions for research purposes.  Additionally, she has a paid position available for someone with quantitative analytic skills. Additionally, she has opportunities for individuals interested in administrative tasks, transcription of therapy tapes and, eventually, participating in recruitment and data collection for two studies. Please contact her by email at heather.macintosh [at] mcgill.ca or (514)398-7056.


Please click here for a full list of Dr. MacIntosh's peer-reviewed publications.

Opportunities to Participate in Research

Dr. MacIntosh’s research is focused on better understanding the impact of trauma during childhood on adult relationships, the process of couple therapy and the experience of trauma survivors engaging in creative arts based interventions. Participating in her research projects makes an important contribution to how social scientists therapists understand these impacts and, in making therapy and interventions more helpful.

Developmental Couple Therapy for Complex Trauma

Have you experienced trauma in your childhood?  Would you like to contribute to research that seeks to understand the particular challenges that survivors of childhood trauma experience in their adult relationships and how couple therapy can help them?

If you agree to participate in this study you will be provided with couple therapy, designed to focus on the particular challenges trauma survivors face in their relationships, at no cost to you.

If you agree to participate in this study you will be asked to take part in an interview, which will last up to one hour. As well, you will be asked to fill out some questionnaires about you and your relationships that will take around half an hour.  Following this, you will be invited to attend couple therapy sessions that last one hour, once per week for a period of between 20-30 weeks.

To participate in this study, please contact Dr. Heather MacIntosh, the Principal Investigator of this project at heather.macintosh [at] mcgill.ca, 514-398-7056.

Childhood Trauma and Choral Singing

Do you love to sing or would you love to have an opportunity to sing in a choir?

Have you experienced trauma during childhood?

Would you like to contribute to helping researchers and therapists understand the impact of singing in a choir for childhood trauma survivors?

Researchers at McGill University are studying how the experience of singing in a choir may impact childhood trauma survivors

For further information, please contact:

Heather MacIntosh Ph.D.

Assistant Professor,

School of Social Work,

McGill University

514 398 7056

heather.macintosh [at] mcgill.ca

Validation du PCL-5/LEC français

Seriez-vous prêt à aider des chercheurs à créer un nouveau questionnaire en français sur les expériences de vie et les traumatismes?

Des chercheurs de l’Université McGill font en sorte que des francophones puissent participer aux recherches sur les traumatismes en proposant des questionnaires appropriés qui auront été développés et validés en français.

Que faut-il faire? Remplir un questionnaire en ligne.

Combien de temps cela me prendra-t-il? Il faudrait prévoir jusqu’à 30 minutes pour remplir le questionnaire.

Est-ce que ce sera difficile? Les questions concernent des expériences que vivent la plupart des gens ainsi que des traumatismes que vous pourriez avoir vécus. Nous ne demandons aucun détail sur ces expériences, simplement une confirmation qu’elles ont eu lieu et comment elles vous affectent maintenant, le cas échéant.

Est-ce que je serai rémunéré pour ma participation? Les participants qui choisiront de fournir leur adresse courriel à la chercheuse principale courront la chance de gagner une carte cadeau Amazon d’une valeur de 50$. Le participant gagnant sera choisi par tirage au sort. Votre adresse courriel sera supprimée après le tirage.  Pour participer! 

Pour plus d’informations, veuillez contacter :

Heather MacIntosh, Ph.D.

Professeure adjointe

École de service social

Université McGill, Montréal

Tél. : 514-398-7056 ou 1-855-398-7056

Trauma in the Lives of Psychoanalysts

While research findings quite clearly identify that the rates of trauma in the lives of those who are drawn to working in mental health are far higher than those in the general population, up to 50%, the field of psychoanalysis has not actively engaged in empirical exploration of this reality.  Trauma has huge impacts on people's lives, relationships and work.  The goal of this research project then, is to explore, through in-depth qualitative analysis, the impact of trauma on psychoanalysts including their analytic training and work, personal lives and relationships.  This research has received research ethics approval from McGill University.  Participants will be asked to meet with the principal investigator, myself, in person or on the telephone, for up to two hours.  Follow up interviews may be requested after initial analyses have been undertaken.  Of course, all interview material will be confidential and presented in aggregate or highly disguised format.  Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions. 

What is involved: Meeting with Heather MacIntosh in person or on the phone to talk about the impact of your personal history of trauma on your current life, work and relationships and filling out two demographic questionnaires
How long will it take: Up to 2 hours
Where will it be:
For those outside of Montreal, Ottawa or Toronto, the interview will be on the phone
Montreal: In an office at McGill University
Toronto: In an office on Bloor St. W
Ottawa: In an office in downtown Ottawa
What are the benefits: You will be helping researchers better understand the impact of trauma on the experiences of psychoanalysts
How do I find out more: email Dr. MacIntosh at heather.macintosh [at] mcgill.ca
Call: 514-398-7056 or 1-855-398-7056

Are you a psychoanalyst, psychoanalytic candidate or psychoanalytic psychotherapist?

Have you experienced trauma in your life?

Would you like to contribute to helping researchers understand the impact your experiences may have on your personal and professional life?

Childhood Sexual Abuse and Relationships in Adulthood

Currently, we are recruiting volunteers to participate in a study that is going to help us understand how childhood sexual abuse survivors are doing in their lives and relationships. The results of this study will be used to help Dr. MacIntosh develop new forms of couple therapy for trauma survivors. She will be sharing these results with researchers and therapists to help people better understand the unique needs of childhood trauma survivors.

What is involved: Attending a meeting and filling out some questionnaires and talking about your relationships
How long will it take: It will take between 1-1.5 hours
Where will it be:
Montreal: In an office at McGill University
Toronto: In an office on Bloor St. W
Ottawa: In an office in downtown Ottawa
What are the benefits: You will be helping therapists better understand the impact of childhood sexual abuse on survivors and their relationships.
A $10.00 Tim Horton’s gift card
How do I find out more: email heather.macintosh [at] mcgill.ca (Dr. MacIntosh)

Call: 514-398-7056 or 1-855-398-7056

For further details, please click here and here.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact heather.macintosh [at] mcgill.ca (Dr. MacIntosh) or 514-398-7056


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