Thompson Rivers University

Rebecca Sanford

Name: Dr. Rebecca Sanford
Position: Associate Teaching Professor
Phone: (250) 828-5248


Suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention and life promotion
Trauma and traumatic bereavement
System transformation and program development
Social work education and professional issues
Child welfare policy and administration
Direct practice of mental health work with children, adolescents, adults, and families
Clinical supervision and consultation to support anti-oppressive, reflexive, and systems informed work
Staff recruitment, retention, and development

Research Interests

Current research projects:
-The Suicide Bereavement Journey
-Canadian Suicide Exposure Study
-Therapeutic Educational Alternatives for Children: The Falcon Program
-Suicide Bereavement in Survivor of Suicide Loss Support Groups


PhD in Social Work, University of Kentucky, College of Social Work, 2016
Dissertation title: An Exploratory Factor Analysis of the Survivor of Suicide Loss Support Group Facilitator Scale: Identifying Meaningful Factors for Group Facilitation and Outcomes

Master of Science in Social Administration (accredited MSW), Case Western Reserve University, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, 2005

Bachelor of Science in Social Work and Psychology, Defiance College, 2004


Select Peer Reviewed Publications:
Sanford, R.L., Hawker, K., Maple, M., & Wayland, S. (2021). Workplace exposure to suicide among Australian mental health workers: A mixed methods study. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 30(1). 286-299. DOI:

Maple, M., Wayland, S., Sanford, R.L., Spillane, A., & Coker, S. (2020). Carers' motivations for, and experiences of, participating in suicide research. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(5). 1733-1748. DOI:

Maple, M. & Sanford, R.L. (2020). Suicide exposure and impact within a non-representative Australian community sample. Death Studies, 44(6). 329-337. DOI: 10.1080/07481187.2018.1554609

Feigelman, W., Sanford, R.L., & Cerel, J. (2020). Do primary care physicians help the bereaved with their suicide losses? Omega, 80(3). 476-489. DOI: 10.1177/0030222817742822

Maple, M., Sanford, R.L., Pirkis, J., Reavley, N., & Nicholas, A. (2019). Exposure to suicide in Australia: A representative random digit dial study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 259. 221-227. DOI:

Feigelman, W., Sanford, R.L., & Cerel, J. (2019). Suicide notes: Assessing their impact on the bereaved. Suicide & Life Threatening Behavior, 49(3). 859-867. DOI: 10.1111/sltb.12489

Cerel, J. & Sanford, R.L. (2018). It's not who you know, it's how you think you know them: Suicide exposure and suicide bereavement. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 71(1). 76-96. DOI: 10.1080/00797308.2017.1415066

Feigelman, W., Cerel, J., & Sanford, R.L. (2018). Disclosure in traumatic deaths as correlates of differential mental health outcomes. Death Studies, 42(7). 456-462. DOI: 10.1080/07481187.2017.1372533

Sanford, R.L., Cerel, J., & Frey, L.M. (2018). Survivor of suicide loss support group facilitators: Do peers and professionals differ? Social Work with Groups, 41(4). 306-322. DOI: 10.1080/01609513.2017.1351414

Maple, M., Pearce, T., Sanford, R., Cerel, J., Castelli-Dransart, D. & Andriessen, K. (2018). A systematic mapping of suicide bereavement and postvention research and a proposed strategic research agenda. Crisis, 39(4). 275-282. DOI:10.1027/0227-5910/a000498

Maple, M., Pearce, T., Sanford, R.L., & Cerel, J. (2017). The role of social work in suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention: A scoping review. Australian Social Work, 70(3). 289-301. DOI: 10.1080/0312407X.2016.1213871

Maple, M., Cerel, J., Sanford, R.L., Pearce, T., & Jordan, J. (2017). Is exposure to suicide beyond kin associated with risk for suicidal behavior? A review of the evidence. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, 47(4). 461-474. DOI: 10.1111/sltb.12308

Fettrow, E.A., Sanford, R.L., Bennett, S. (2017). Pre-service educators' perceptions of child abuse/neglect (CAN) training: Recommendations for practice. Journal of Health Education Teaching, 8(1). 1-16.

Sanford, R.L., Ratliff, S., & Staton-Tindall, M. (2017). Working with parents who use alcohol
and drugs. In L. Dixon, D. Perkins, C. Hamilton-Giachritsis, & L. Craig (Eds.), The Wiley Handbook of What Works in Child Maltreatment: An Evidence-Based Approach to Assessment and Intervention in Child Protection. Wiley-Blackwell.

Sanford, R.L., Cerel, J., McGann, V., & Maple, M. (2016). Suicide loss survivors' experiences with therapists: Implications for clinical practice. Community Mental Health Journal, 52(5). 551-558. DOI: 10.1007/s10597-016-0006-6

Employment History

2016-Present Associate Teaching Professor, Thompson Rivers University
2011-2016 Clinical Faculty, University of Kentucky
2011-2011 Instructor of Social Work, Defiance College
2009-2010 Clinical Supervisor and Therapist, Family Pride of Northeast Ohio
2004-2010 Clinical Supervisor and Therapist, Cleveland Catholic Charities

Courses Taught

Thompson Rivers University:
SOCW 3010 Introduction to Social Work Research
SOCW 3040/4020 Social Work Field Practice
SOCW 3760 Family and Child Welfare Practice
SOCW 4400 Social Work and Mental Health
SOCW 4610 Social Work with Groups
SOCW 4760 Family and Child Welfare Policy

University of Kentucky:
SW 421 Human Behavior and the Social Environment I
SW 422 Human Behavior and the Social Environment II
SW 445 Field Practicum II
SW 505 Child Welfare Services
SW 580 Enhancing Safety and Permanency
SW 580 Case Management in Child Welfare
SW 580 Partnership in Supporting Children and Adults in Need
SW 600 Theory Informed Social Work Practice with Individuals
SW 602 Theory Informed Social Work Practice with Groups

Defiance College:
SW 120 Life in Society
SW 230 Behavioral Statistics
SW 278 Interviewing and Interpersonal Communication
SW 356 Social Work Practice II: Groups and Families

Professional Affiliations

Registered Clinical Social Worker, British Columbia College of Social Workers

Co-Editor, NEOS publication of the Anthropology of Children and Youth Interest Group (ACYIG)


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