Fiona Moola, MSc, Ph.D.
Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)
Dr. Fiona J. Moola is an Associate Professor in the School of Early Childhood Studies in the Faculty of Community Services at Toronto Metropolitan University. Dr. Moola is a Canadian-South African who is the daughter of anti-apartheid activists from South Africa. Dr. Moola is a woman of colour.
Dr. Moola completed Undergraduate, Masters, and Doctoral Degrees at the University of Toronto, graduating in 2011. She completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Concordia University in 2012 before joining the Faculty at the University of Manitoba. Dr. Moola comes with a long history of excellence across many children’s in Canada where she has maintained many lines of research. These include a) children with disabilities, play, and physical activity, b) childhood disability and the arts, c) marginalized childhoods, and d) childhood disability, narrative, and storytelling. Dr. Moola also maintains ongoing lines of research in Indigenous childhoods and children’s mental health. Dr. Moola’s research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Research, TMU, VERTEX, the Holland Bloorview Foundation, and the University of Toronto.
Dr. Moola’s work is strongly committed to principles of critical health psychology, social justice, and anti-oppression. Thus far, Dr. Moola has contributed 55 publications (articles and book chapters) to the academic peer-reviewed literature. Fiona is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) and has a small therapy practice. Fiona is also Faculty at the Gestalt Institute of Toronto, which is a psychotherapy institute where she specializes in racial trauma, eating disorders, child development, and children with disabilities. Fiona also teaches and delivers equity, diversity, and inclusion workshops. Dr. Moola is delighted to join Grandview Kids as its second Research Associate.
Getting to know Dr. Fiona Moola
Grandview Kids has welcomed Dr. Fiona Moola as a Research Associate. Here are five questions we asked to get to know Dr. Moola.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Fiona. I was born in Toronto and my parents are from apartheid South Africa. I am a woman of colour. I am an Associate Professor at the Toronto Metropolitan University and I also hold Status-only appointments at the University of Toronto. I am a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) and I have a small practice called Luna Therapies in Toronto. In my spare time, I love to travel, hike and run, and practice yoga. I also love creative writing and reading. I just became a mother for the first time to twin babies. Their names are Yara Benedetta and Simonetta Ayla. I also engage in a lot of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion efforts both in my formal work environments and social environments. I have contributed a few dozen publications on childhood disability to the global literature.
What type of research do you conduct?
I consider myself to be a critical qualitative health researcher in that my qualitative studies are underpinned by critical social theories and critical health psychology. My own lived experience of structural and internalized racism as apartheid survivors sensitized me to issues of social injustice at a very early age.
I work across all qualitative methodological traditions, like arts-based research, grounded theory, phenomenology, and ethnography, to name a few. Having said that, I have participated in dozens of quantitative studies, as well as mixed methods studies, including all elements of design and analysis. Thus, I can speak across positivism and other epistemological positions. I am also very interested in various philosophies of research. I consider myself a methodological pluralist in that I am not particularly wed to one tradition. I think different approaches are needed for different social problems and I enjoy hybridity in research. I am constantly learning new methodological approaches from graduate students and colleagues. I am also a fan of theoretically informed research.
How might Grandview Kids families get involved with your work?
Of course, children and families can be involved in our research through direct participation in any of our studies. However, I hope that families can engage in a much more comprehensive way, including participating in the design and co-creation of research studies and knowledge dissemination projects. I am available at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org if families would like to talk about research.
What is your vision of this new partnership with Grandview Kids?
The first thing that I noticed about Grandview Kids three years ago was their emphasis on relationality and relationship building. I was also struck by the humility of Grandview and their “family” like feeling. This is so important to me as I believe the best research stems from relationships with community members, grounded in trust and reciprocity.
My vision with Grandview Kids is to elevate and amplify ground-breaking and innovative research and discovery in childhood disability research and care – with and for families. My vision is to also be research leaders in childhood disability research with marginalised communities. And, of course, as I grow into this new role, I look forward to also co-creating new visions with Grandview Kids. Given the massive number of clients that Grandview serves over such a large geographic region – and the inherent diversity of this demographic – I truly believe that Grandview Kids has the potential and ability to leave a lasting legacy on childhood disability research and care, especially with families living at multiple social intersections. As well, I hope that Grandview Kids will also provide mutually beneficial pedagogical experiences for Toronto Metropolitan University Early Childhood Studies students.
- Toronto Metropolitan University: About Dr. Fional Moola
Recent funding to support research
Woodgate, R. L., (PI), Moola, F., Bennett, M., Kirk, S., Hatala, A., Rempel, G., Wittmeier, K., & Warren, M. (2022). Engaging Youth in Mental Health Research in the COVID-19 Pandemic Context via a Youth Co-Design Arts-Based approach. New Frontiers in Research Fund – Rapid Response. Innovative Approaches to Research in the Pandemic Context. Amount: $177,478.00. Type: Research Grant, C.
Ross, T (PI), Hamdani,Y., Moola, F., Lunsky, Y., & Balogh, B. (2022). Exploring the Housing Experiences and Community Participation of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities. New Frontiers in Research Fund. Exploration Grant. $ 249,913. Type: Research Grant, C.
Woodgate, R. L., (PI), Moola, F., Kirk, S., Martin, D., Bennett, M. Wittmeier, K., & Wilson, M. (2022). Addressing the Indirect and Wider Health Impacts of COVID-19 on Families of Children Living with Disabilities. Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Operating Grant: Addressing the Wider Health Impacts of COVID-19. Amount: $425,954.00. Type: Research Grant, C.
Moola, F. (PI), Ross, T., McPherson, A., Amarshi, A., Sium, A., & Omar, S. (2021). Decolonizing Childhood Disability: Exploring the Health Care Experiences of Racialized Children with Disabilities from the Perspective of Policy, Patients, Parents, Health Providers, and Health Policymakers. Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) Project Grant. Amount: $180,000.00. Type: Research Grant, C.
Moola, F. (PI), Amarshi, A., Ross, T., Sium, A. (2021). Listening to the Margins: Building a New Research Network to Support the Social Needs of Racialized Children with Disabilities in Canada. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Connection Program. Amount: $27,697.00 Amount matched by Holland Bloorview: $55,394.00. Duration: Type: Conference Grant, C.
Moola, F. (PI), Ross, T., Moothathamby, N., Naganathan, M., & Campbell, S. (2021). Interpreting Inequities: Understanding Health Care Experiences of Racialized Youth with Disabilities, their Caregivers, and the Health Providers Who Serve Them — Services, Access, Navigation, and Interpretation (SANI project). The Holland Bloorview Centre for Leadership Amount: $50,000.00. Type: Research Grant, O.
Woodgate, R. L., (PI), Allieu, E., Busolo, D., Gyan, C. Joseph, M., Kassa, B., Moola, F., & Praznik, J. (2021). Young Immigrants and Refugees Do-Designing Mental Health and Well-Being Solutions.Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Project Grant. Amount: $761,176.00. Type. Research Grant, C.
Czegledy, N., (PI) Heller, L., Moola, F., Ong, J., Pettersen, A., & Shook, M. (2021). Dobble Debate: A Game Promoting Discussion of Difference, Dis-and Differing Abilities. ECampusOntario, Virtual Learning Strategy. Amount: $89,978.06. Type: Research Grant, C.
Moola, F. (PI), Woodgate, R., Buliung, R., Hansen, N., Heller, L., Blake, C., & Posa, S. (2020). “Behind the Paintbrush: Exploring Artistic Experiences, Artistic Leadership, and Artistic Creations Among Children and Youth Living with Physical Disabilities in Ontario. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Insight Grant. Amount: $188,388. Type: Research Grant, C.
McPherson, A. C., (PI), Moola, F., Gesink, D., Hooper, M., McKeever P., & Sikand, M. (2020). Connect to Create: Mobilizing knowledge of sexuality in children and young people with disabilities to create capacity across Canada. Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC) Connection Grant. Amount: $60,646. Type: Conference Grant, C.
Moola, F. J. (2020). Provincial Government Emergency fund during COVID-19 to Holland Bloorview. Amount: $3,000.00. Type: Research Grant, C.
McPherson, A., Toulany, A., Moola, F., Chen, L., Hooper, M., Thorne, M., Church, P., Beaudoin, S., & Bonder, R. (2020). Exploring the Extent and Nature of Disordered Eating in Adolescents and Young Adults with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Across Canada. Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Canada Research Grant. Amount: $30,086.00. Type: Research Grant, O.
Biddiss, E., Wong, S., Chan-Viquez D., Fehlings, D., Ivanchuk, S., Moola, F., & Moussaoui, S. (2020). BootleBlast, A Movement Tracking Video Game for Home-Based Motor Therapy – Navigating Gaps to Market Readiness. Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Amount: $416,151. Type: Research Grant, C.
Research funding from Toronto Metropolitan University
Moola, F. J. (2021). Stories and Art from Youth on the Psychosocial Experience of Living with Cystic Fibrosis. Knowledge Mobilization and Community Impact Grant. Faculty of Community Services, Toronto Metropolitan University. Amount: $4,000.00. Knowledge Mobilization Grant, O – University.
Moola, F. J. (2021). It Was the End of the World: Exploring the Experiences of Two Caregivers of a Racialized Tamil Child With Autism Navigating the Health Care System in Canada. Faculty of Community Services, Toronto Metropolitan University Publication Grant. Amount: $1,447.00. Knowledge Mobilization Grant, O – University.
Moola, F. J. (2020). The Author of my Own Life: Exploring the Role of Storybook Creation in the Lives of Children and Youth Living with Anxiety and Depression in Southern Ontario. Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC) Explore Grant, Toronto Metropolitan University. Amount:$6,989.00.
Moola, F. J., Buliung, R., & Posa, S. (2020). Malevolent or Benevolent Brushstrokes? Exploring the Depiction of Children and Adults with Disabilities in Italian Renaissance Paintings. Faculty of Community Services, Internal Seed Grant. Amount: $5,500.00. Research Grant, O – University.
Moola, F.J. Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC) COVID-19 Emergency Fund to Toronto Metropolitan University. Amount: $5000.00. Recovery Grant, C.
Moola, F. J. (2019). Unmuting Marginality: Exploring the Early Childhood Health Care Experiences of Visual Minority Children and Youth Living with Physical Disabilities in Ontario. School of Early Childhood Studies, Faculty of Community Services, Toronto Metropolitan University. Proposal Development Grant. Amount: $4,000. Research Grant, O, University.
Moola, F. J. (2019). A Review of Music Therapy in the Lives of Children and Youth with Disabilities in Medical and Community-Based Settings.” School of Early Childhood Studies, Faculty of Community Services, Toronto Metropolitan University, Proposal Development Grant. Amount: $1,360, Research Grant, O, University.
Moola, F. (PI), Moothathamby, N., & Naganathan, M. (2019). “Navigating the Medical and Social Merry-Go-Round”: Understanding the Caregiving Experiences of Parents from Racialized Backgrounds that Care for Children Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Amount: $6,900.00. Type: Research Grant, O, University.
Biddiss, E., (PI) Fehlings, D., Chan-Viquez, D., Knights, S., Mccormick, A., Moola, F., Moussaoui, S., Munce, S., Wincentak, J., & Wright, V. (2019). Testing a Mixed Reality Video Game for Home-Based Practice of Arm-Hand Skills for Children with Cerebral Palsy. A Pilot Randomized Control Trial. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Project Grant. Amount: $320,597.00. Type: Research Grant, C.
Biddiss, E., (PI), Lamont, A., Fehlings, D., John, B., Moola, F., Chau, C., Churchill, J., McKeever, P., Mitro., Scott, A., & Wong, S. (2019). The Virtual Music Teacher: Children of All Abilities Banking Together in Early Childhood Music Education. Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Collaborative Health Research Projects. Amount: $944,555.00. Type: Research Grant, C.
McPherson, A., Kingsnorth, S., Provvidenza, C., Wincentak, J., Gan, C., Moola, F., Gurza, A., Dangerfield, B., & Lacey, E. (2018). Nobody is Talking to me About Sex! A Needs Assessment to Explore Information and Communication Needs of Children and Youth People Around Sexuality. Accessibility Excellence in Research Award Competition. Amount: $7,500.00. Type: Research Grant, F.
Moola, F. J. (PI). (2018) CF Coutour: The Role of Fashion in the Lives of Patients Living with Cystic Fibrosis. VERTEX. Amount: $82,000.00. Type. Research Grant, F.
Moola, F. J. (PI), Curran, C.J., & Crossman, S. (2018). Exploring the Impact of Community-Based Arts for Emerging Adults with Disability. Holland Bloorview Foundation. Amount: $22,000.00. Type: Research Grant, F.
McPherson, A., Maltais, D., Moffet, H., Schwellnus, H., Bidissis, E., Merette, C., King, G., Church, P., & Moola, F. (2017). Children and Teens in Charge of their Health (CATCH): A Feasibility Study of Solution-Focused Coaching to Foster Healthy Lifestyles in Children and Young People with Physical Disabilities. Canadian Institutes of Health Research Project Grant. $ 221,849. Duration: Type: Research Grant, C.
Moola, F. J. (PI). (2016). Telling my Tale: Describing and Interpreting the Life Stories of People Living with Cystic Fibrosis in Manitoba. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant. Amount: $62,844.00. Type: Research Grant, C.
Moola, F. J. (PI). (2016). Circle of Care: Exploring the Process and Outcome of a Transition Program for Young Patients Living with Cystic Fibrosis in Manitoba, Canada. Funded through VERTEX. Amount: $49,000.00. Type: Research Grant, F.
Papers in referred journals
Moola, F. J., Moothathamby, N., & Posa, S. (2022). Portraits of resistance: Exploring intra-personal, social, and institutional resistances through the use of arts-based research among racialized parents of autistic children and youth. Accepted. Studies in Social Justice.
Moola, F., Posa, S., & Buliung, R. (2022). Malevolent or benevolent brushstrokes? Exploring the depiction of disability in Italian Renaissance paintings. Accepted. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies.
Moola, F. J., Ross, T., Amarshi, A., Sium, A., Neville, A. R., Moothathamby, N., Dangerfield, B., Tynes-Powell, T., & Pathmalingam, T. (2023). Listening to the Margins: Reflecting on Lessons Learned From a National Conference Focused on Establishing a Qualitative Research Platform for Childhood Disability and Race. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 22. https://doi.org/10.1177/16094069231151306
Moola, F., Buliung, R., Woodgate, N., Hansen, N., Moothathamby, N., & Posa, S. (2022). Behind the paintbrush: Disabled children and youths’ use of visual arts-based methods in health-care and education settings and methodological lessons learned. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies. 11(2), 119–160. https://doi.org/10.15353/cjds.v11i2.891.
Campbell, S., Moola, F. J., Gibson, J., Petch, J., Denburg, A. (2022). The unspeakable nature of death & dying during childhood: A silenced phenomenon in pediatric care. Omega – Journal of Death and Dying. (early online 14 January 2022).
Pathmalingam ,T, Moola F.J., Woodgate, R.L. (2022). Illness conversations: Self-disclosure among children and youth with chronic illnesses. Chronic Illness. 2022;0(0). doi:10.1177/17423953221110152
Pathmalingam, T., Moola., F. J., & Woodgate, R. L. (2022). Anything but simple: the disclosure practices of children with cancer in residential camp and non-camp settings. Children’s Health Care, 52, 2, 151-172, DOI: 10.1080/02739615.2022.2060831
Neville, A., Campbell, S., & Moola, F. J. (2022). Toward narrative agency? Moving beyond narrative archetypes among children and youth with cancer. Children and Society, 36, 6, 1262-1279.
Moola, F., Buliung, R., Vance, C., Consunji-Araneta, & Naganathan, M. (2021). Parenting between the rules: How the parents of young people with cystic fibrosis in Canada navigate cross-contamination restrictions. Child and Youth Care Forum. (early online 14 September 2021).
Posa, S., Moola, F. J., McPherson, A., & Kontos, P. (2021). Exploring illness identity among children and youth living with cancer: A narrative review. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 68(11), e29251.
Lumia, C., Arbour-Nicitopolous, Moola, F. J., & McPherson, A. (2021). Using photo-elicitation to explore health promotion concepts with children and adolescents with disabilities: A rapid scoping review. Disability and Rehabilitation, 1-11
Buliung, R., Hess, P., Flowers, L., Moola, F. J., Faulkner G. F. (2021). Living the journey to school: Conceptual asymmetry between parents and planners on the journey to school. Social Science and Medicine, 284(1982), 114237.
Moola, F. J. (2020). Passive on the periphery: Exploring the experience of physical activity among children and youth with congenital heart disease using the draw and write technique. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 7(69).
Moola, F. J., Moothathamby, N., Naganathan, M., Curran, C.J., Yerichuk, D., &. McPherson, A. C. (2020). A scoping review of music therapy in the lives of children and youth with disabilities and chronic conditions in non-acute medical and community-based settings: A novel consideration for art therapists? Canadian Journal of Art Therapy, 33(1), 17-28. * *Support from FCS Grants, Toronto Metropolitan University.
Moola, F., Ladwig, J. C., & Glazebrook, C. M. (2020). “I felt so proud of myself”: The experiences of young adults with intellectual disabilities and their respite workers in a nine-month dance program. The International Journal of Social, Political, and Community Agendas in the Arts, 15(1), 1-19.
Posa, S., & Moola, F. J. (2020). ““Illustrating” the role of the expressive arts among children and youth with cystic fibrosis: A narrative review. Canadian Review of Art Education, 47(1), 32-49.
Moola, F. J., Moothathamby, N., McAdam, L., Solomon, M., Varadi, R., Tullis, D. E., & Reisman, J. (2019). Telling my tale: Reflections on the process of visual storytelling for children and youth living with cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy in Canada. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 18, 1-8.
Moola, F. J. (2020). Forging friendships: The experience of students with disabilities in a peer based physical activity mentorship program. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise, and Health. 12(2), 207- 223.
Neville, A. R., Moothathamby, N., Naganathan, M., Huynh, E., & Moola, F. (2019). “A place to call our own”: The impact of camp experiences on the psychosocial wellbeing of children and youth affected by cancer – A narrative review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 36, 18-8.
Moola, F. J., Neville, A. R., Huynh, E., Moothathamby, N., & Naganathan, M. (2019). Ensuring long- term benefits of camp for children with chronic illnesses? Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 61(12), 1355.
Moola, F., & Krahn, A. (2018). A dance with many secrets: The experience of emotional harm from the perspective of past professional female ballet dancers in Canada. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 27(3,) 256-274.
Moola, F. (2018). The complexities of contagion: The experience of social isolation among children and youth living with cystic fibrosis in Canada. Journal of Child Health Care, 22(4), 631-645.
Rail, G., Poltzer, J., Bryson, M., Petherick, L., Norman, M., & Moola, F. J. (2018). HPV vaccination campaigns and the discursive construction of “at-risk” girls. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 109(5- 6), 622-632.
Moola, F. J., Faulkner, G., Garcia, E, Huynh, E., Penfound, S., & Consunji-Araneta, A. (2017). Physical activity counselling for children with cystic fibrosis. Respiratory Care, 62(11), 1466-1473.
Moola, F. J., Henry, L., Stacey, J., Huynh, E., & Faulkner, G. (2017). They know it’s safe — They know what to expect from that face: Perceptions toward a health and physical activity counselling program for children and families living with cystic fibrosis. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 26(19-20), 2932-2945.
Moola, F. J. & Norman, M. E. (2017). On judgment day: Anorexic and obese women’s phenomenological experience of the body, food and eating. Feminism & Psychology, 27(3), 259-275.
Norman, M., & Moola, F. J. (2017). The weight of (the) matter: A new material feminist account of thin and fat oppressions. Health, 23(5), 497-515.Moola, F. J. (2016). Therapeutic endings: Reflections on the termination of counselling-based research relationships among patients with cystic fibrosis and their caregivers. Time & Society, 28(1), 358-374.