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Counselor Education Student at UNO Wins National Dissertation Award

NEW ORLEANS — Heather Olivier, a May 2023 doctoral graduate from the University of New Orleans counselor education program, won a prestigious national award for her dissertation. Olivier received the Associated for Counselor Education Education & Supervision (ACES) Outstanding Dissertation Award.

Oliver’s dissertation, “Therapeutic Approaches to Working with Perinatal Loss Clients: A Grounded Theory Study,” was judged to be the best in the field in 2023.

According to Olivier, perinatal loss—which includes miscarriage, stillbirth, termination and infant death—is commonly referred to in the scientific literature as an invisible loss, non-loss or a medical event. Although mental health clinicians are likely to work with clients who experience perinatal loss, there is no therapeutic model designed for the unique grief and trauma in these patients. Olivier’s study co-constructs a therapeutic model to utilize when working with perinatal loss clients.

This fall, Olivier joined Southeastern Louisiana University as an assistant professor in the counseling program.

In addition to Olivier’s recognition, UNO faculty member Chris Belser was selected for the ACES Distinguished Professional Service Award, which is given to one counselor educator each year. ACES is the national flagship association for counselor education faculty, researchers, supervisors and doctoral students around the U.S. with more than 5,000 members.


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