Concordia University

Dr Patti Ranahan, PhD

Associate Professor, Applied Human Sciences

On sabbatical between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018

Office: L-VE 331-01 
Vanier Extension,
7141 Sherbrooke W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 3316

Patti Ranahan joined the Department of Applied Human Sciences in December 2011. From 2008 to 2011, she worked as an instructor at Vancouver Island University in the Faculty of Health and Human Services, Child and Youth Care Programs. Dr. Ranahan has over two decades of practice experience working as a child and youth care professional in a variety of settings including residential care, crisis shelters, school-based practice, mental health outpatient services, and community-based foster parent support. She has facilitated suicide intervention education programs, and currently acts as a clinical supervisor of Connect - an attachment-based psycho-educational group for parents and caregivers. Her practice experiences inform her research and teaching activities. Her research focuses on examination of youth workers' experiences of and responses to adolescent suicidality, suicide prevention education, mental health literacies development of and application to, youth work contexts, youth work and child and youth care pedagogy, and qualitative research methods including grounded theory, discourse analysis, and focused ethnography. She is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors.


2011 Ph.D., Curriculum and Instruction, University of Victoria
2007 MA, Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria
2001 BA, Child and Youth Care, Malaspina University College
1995 BA, Sociology/Anthropology and English, Carleton University

Research interests

Adolescent suicide
, Suicide prevention education and practice, 
Youth Work and Child and Youth Care pedagogy and practice, Mental health literacies, 
Grounded theory
, Discourse analysis, Focused ethnography

Research activities

Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training in British Columbia: An Ethnographic Study of a Provincial Implementation Strategy.

This focused ethnography is intends to capture the complexities of implementing a province-wide suicide prevention gatekeeper training initiative.
Role: Co-Investigator with Dr. Jennifer White (University of Victoria)
Funded by: Canadian Mental Health Association - BC Division

Kitinikêwin misiwanacihisowin: Arts-based wellness promotion for suicide prevention among Aboriginal youth

This study examines the issue of Aboriginal youth suicide through arts-based wellness promotion based on Marshall’s “two-eyed seeing” (2009). Indigenous, qualitative, and arts-based research methods are combined with epidemiological and quantitative approaches, taking a proactive approach to integrated knowledge translation and policy formulation.
Role: Co-Investigator
Funded by: CIHR

Applying Mental Health Literacy to Youth Work Practice: A Pilot Case Study

This innovative pilot project is the first qualitative examination of how a mental health literacy curriculum specifically designed for youth work practice is applied in interventions with young people suffering from suicidality or mental health concerns. Using an exploratory case study design, this project aims to analyze how youth workers apply mental health literacy to practice with young people while completing a series of educational mental health literacy workshops.
Role: Principal Investigator
Funded by: Seed/Accelerator Funding Program - Individual, Concordia University

Addressing Adolescent Mental Health and Suicide Concerns: Enhancing Attachment Security in Francophone Parent-Youth Relationships

Attachment insecurity may increase the risk of mental health concerns, such as suicide ideation. The purpose of this innovative pilot studyis to explicate the process of attachment security development withinfrancophone parent-youth relationships where the parent is attending anattachment-based, educational intervention entitled the “Connect Parent Group”and the youth is experiencing mental health and/or suicide concerns.

Role: Principal Investigator

Funded by: Centre for Human Relations and Community Studies

Perspectives on Mental Health Literacy Needs in Youth Work Education and Practice

The purpose of this qualitative survey was examine how youth work educators and practitioners perceive mental health literacy in youthwork pre-service education and practice so literacies (or competencies) might be identified for curriculum development to ensure youth workers are adequately prepared to support young people experiencing mental health concerns and play an active role on a mental health care team.
Role: Principal Investigator
Funded by: Concordia University Research Start Up Grant

A Discourse Analysis of Mental Health Literacies in Youth Workers' Practice with Young People who are Suicidal

The purpose of this study is to identify and describe the mental health literacies of youth workers working with young people who are suicidal in a variety of settings (e.g., residential care, outreach and community-based settings, school programs), and explicate how their mental health literacies influence their subsequent actions in the provision of care.
Role: Principal Investigator
Funded by: Concordia University Research Start-Up Grant


Recent publications

Ranahan, P. (under review). De/valuing youth work: Pre-service youth workers' development of professional identity in the context of mental health care. Child & Youth Services.

Ranahan, P. (under review). Transcending disciplines, engaging multiliteracies: Considering the wicked problem of suicide prevention. Journal of Social Work Education.

Ranahan, P. (in press). Mental health and suicide concerns: Youth work practice implications for young people leaving care. In V. Mann-Feder & M. Goyette (Eds.). Leaving care and the transition to adulthood: International contributions to theory,research and practice. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ranahan, P., Yuen, F., & Linds, W. (2017). Suicide prevention education: Indigenous youths' perspectives on wellness. Journal of Indigenous Wellbeing, 2(1), 15-28.

Ranahan, P. (2017, March). Deepening a child and youth care understanding of presence: Engaging living-dying dialectical moments. CYC Online Magazine, 217, 4-12. Retrieved from

Ranahan, P., & Thomas, T. (2017). Mental health literacies for interprofessional collaboration: Youth workers’ perspectives on constraining and supporting factors. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 35(3), 69-81. doi:10.7870/cjcmh-2016-039
Ranahan, P. (2016). A suicide researcher’s reflections on dying and living. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Services Review.

Ranahan, P. (2016). Protocols or principles? Re-imagining suicide risk assessment as an embedded, principle-based ongoing conversation in youth work practice. Child & Youth Services, 37(4),362-380. doi: 10.1080/0145935X.2016.1158095
Ranahan, P., & White, J. (2016). Re-envisioning youth work professional development and education in mental health and suicide care. In K. M. Pozzobonoini & B. Kirshner (Eds.), The Changing Landscape of Youth Work: Theory and Practice for an Evolving Field
  (pp. 175-192). Charlotte, NC: Information AgePublishing.

Ranahan, P. (2015). Mental health literacies in  youth work practice with adolescents.  In D. Begoray & E. Banister (Eds.) Adolescent Health Literacy and Learning, (pp. 119-134). New York: Nova. 

Ranahan, P. & Pellissier, R. (2015). Youth workers in mental health care:  Role, mental health literacy development, and framing future research. Journal of Child and Youth Care Work, 25, 229-247.

Ranahan, P., Blanchet-Cohen, N., Mann-Feder, V. (2015). Moving towards an integrated approach to youth work education.
International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 6(4), 516-538.

Ranahan, P., & Pellissier, R. (2015). Being green: A discourse analysis of youth workers' initial touchstone experiences with suicidal youth. Relational Child & Youth Care Practice, 27(4), 11-22.

Ranahan, P. (2014). Watching: A potentially disengaging practice for child and youth care professionals in their encounters with suicidal adolescents. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 5(1), 4-23.

Ranahan, P. (2013). Pathways for preparation:  Locating suicide education in preparing  professionals for encounters with suicidal adolescents.  Child & Youth Services, 34(4), 387-401. doi:10.1080/0145935X.2013.859908

Ranahan, P. (2013). Being with: Child and youth care professionals practice with suicidal adolescents. Relational Child & Youth Care Practice, 26(1), 6-17.

Ranahan, P. (2013). Why did you call for them? Child and youth care professionals practice of flooding the zone during encounters with suicidal adolescents. Child Care in Practice, 19(2), 138-161. doi: 10.1080/13575279.2012.750598.

Ranahan, P., Fogarty, C., Henderson, J., Kornberger, K., Palm, D., Phillips, H., & Scott, K. (2012). Braiding narratives of relating, being and growing: A metissage of students experiences in pre-service child and youth care education.  Relational Child & Youth Care Practice, 25(4), 13-24.

Sanrud, H., & Ranahan, P. (2012). Pedagogical encounters of the case-based kind. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 3(2-3), 234-247.

Ranahan, P. (2010). Mental health literacy: A conceptual framework for future inquiry into child and youth care professionals practice with suicidal adolescents. Child & Youth Care Forum, 39(1), 11-25, doi:10.1007/s10566-009-9087-5

Teaching activities


AHSC 314 Adolescence: Issues and Interventions
AHSC 322/522

Fundamentals of Child and Youth Care Work
AHSC 436 Internship in Youth and Family Work
AHSC 527 Advanced Youth Work Intervention: Case Management and Supervision
AHSC 540 Mental Health and Addictions: Youth Work Perspectives, Policies, and Practices

Participation activities

Peer-reviewed conferences

Ranahan, P., &White, J. (abstract under review). Integrating multiple views and diverselandscapes in implementing a provincially funded suicide prevention gatekeepertraining initiative: A focused ethnography. Submitted for paper presentation atthe 51st Annual American Association of Suicidology Conference,Washington, DC, United States.


White, J.,& Ranahan, P. (abstract underreview). ResearchingRelational Realities: Implementing a Provincial Suicide Prevention GatekeeperTraining Program in BC. Submitted for paper presentation atthe Transitions & Transformations 2018 CYC Conference, Richmond, Canada.


Ranahan, P., &White, J. (abstract accepted for presentation 2018, February). A focused ethnography examining theimplementation process of a province-wide suicide prevention gatekeepertraining program in Canada. Paper presentation at the 30thAnnual Ethnographic & Qualitative Research Conference, Las Vegas, UnitedStates.


Ranahan, P., Auclair, N., Polisois-Keating, A.,& Moretti, M. (abstract accepted for presentation 2018, April). Enhancing attachment security inparent-youth relationships: The Connect Parent Group©. Paper presentationat the 7th Biennial Conference of the Québec Committee for Youth withBehavioural Difficulties/ Comité québecois pourles jeunes en difficulté decomportement, Quebec City, Canada.


Ranahan, P., &White, J. (2017, October). ‘Drinking theKool-Aid', 'selling seats', and ‘cones of silence’: Engaging divergingperspectives in a focused ethnography of the implementation of aprovincial suicide prevention initiative. Alternative format presentation at theInternational Qualitative Health Research Conference, Quebec City, Canada.


Ranahan, P. (2017,July). Reframing suicide prevention education:Exploring pre-service youth workers’ processes of learning and applying suicideintervention literacies.Paper presented at the Critical Suicidology 2.0 Conference, Canterbury, UnitedKingdom.


Yuen, F., Ranahan, P., & Linds, W. (2017, May). Leisure, decolonization, and social justice. Paper presented at theCanadian Congress on Leisure Research, Kitchener, Canada.


White, J.,& Ranahan, P. (2017, April). Implementingstandardized suicide prevention education in localized and variable contexts: Afocused ethnography research design. Paper presented at the Child and YouthCare In Action V Conference, Victoria, Canada.

Ranahan,P. (2016, October). Beyond the prompt:Drawing on spontaneous narratives as a source of data in exploring the processof attachment security enhancement in parent-youth relationships. Alternativeformat presentation at the International Qualitative Health ResearchConference, Kelowna, Canada.
Ranahan,P. (2016, August). Qualitativeexplorations of youth work and mental health literacy in Canada. Paperpresented at the 33rd FICE Congress & 2nd CYC WorldConference, Vienna, Austria.
Ranahan,P. (2016, August). Complex and competingdemands: The art and process of balancing during suicide interventions in youthwork. Poster presented at the 33rd FICE Congress & 2ndCYC World Conference, Vienna, Austria.

Yuen, F.,Linds, W., & Ranahan, P. (2016,May). Imagining wellness with Indigenousyouth through arts-based research. Paper presented at the 12thCongress of Qualitative Inquiry, Urbana-Champaign, United States.

Ranahan, P.(2016, April).Drawingon principles, or following protocols? Examining professionals’ practice withsuicidal adolescents. Workshop presentation at 6e Congrèsbiennal du Comité québécois pour les jeunes en difficulté de comportement,Quebec City, Canada.
Ranahan,P. (2015, October). Qualitativeexaminations of youth work and suicide intervention: Unique challengescontributing to a research life at the margins. Alternative formatpresentation at the Qualitative Health Research Conference, Toronto, Canada.

Ranahan, P. (2015, June). A potentially underutilized resource: Howyouth workers are on the bandwagon in providing mental health care. Posterpresented at the 16th Annual Collaborative Mental Health CareConference, Calgary, Alberta.



Ranahan, P. (2014, October). A DiscourseAnalysis of Youth Workers’ Talk About Practice with Suicidal Adolescents. Paperpresented at the Qualitative Health Research Conference, Victoria, Canada.


Ranahan, P., & Pellissier, R. (2014, October). Youth workers’ discursive constructions ofpractice with suicidal youth. Paper presented at the National Child andYouth Care Conference, Moncton, Canada.


Mann-Feder, V., Blanchet-Cohen, N., & Ranahan,P. (2014, May). Responding to our currenttimes: An approach to youth work education. Paper presented at the Childand Youth Care in Action IV, Victoria, Canada.


Ranahan, P. (2013, June). Situated, localized and relational: Re-envisioning the concept ofmental health literacy for collaborative mental health care with suicidaladolescents. Paper presented at the 14th Canadian CollaborativeMental Health Care Conference, Montreal, Canada.


Ranahan, P. (2013, June). The Balancing Proximity and Perimeter Process: A grounded theory studyof child and youth care professionals’ practice with suicidal adolescents.Poster presented at the Suicide World Congress, Montreal, Canada.


Ranahan, P. (2012, October). Lessons from CYC professionals’ encounters with suicidal adolescents:Care for our self when providing suicide care. Paper presented at theInternational Child and Youth Care Conference, Canmore, Alberta.


Ranahan, P. (2012, August). Celebrating the role of youth workers in interventions with suicidalyoung people. Paper presented at the International Conference on Youth Workand Youth Studies, Glasgow, Scotland.

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