Pilar Galiana-Abal, Ph.D.

Pilar Galiana-Abal, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Contact Information
Email: pilar.galianaabal@ottawa.edu

Although born and raised in Spain, Dr Pilar Galiana Abal conducted all of her academic training in Paris, France. As a member of the Basque ethnic minority in Spain, early in life she developed a particular interest in the impact of cultural values, beliefs and scripts in the construction of the sense of the self. Dr Galiana Abal started her academic career specializing in Asian Languages, a discipline that would eventually lead her to earn a doctoral degree in social anthropology (MNHN- EHESS, Paris). Her interest in clinical psychology emerged during the years she spent in ethnographic fieldwork studying rites of passage in East of Punjab (Pakistan) and in West Rajasthan (India). Noting that these rites were often "deviated" from their primary object and were used as folk therapies, she started exploring the potential role of ritually-triggered religious experience to act as a psychotherapeutic device. She observed that religious rituals could elicit specific mental processes and (re)activate psychological resources. Since then, Dr Galiana Abal theoretical background can be described as psychodynamic neuroscience. This theoretical framework inspired her to explore the stable and changing components of the sense of the self in patients suffering from psychotic disorders or psychotic-like stages, exploring the way religious experience (even hyperreligious syndromes involving bizarre beliefs and non-shared perceptions) can be a potential source of cognitive and psychological enhancement. She is currently finishing her book based on the diagnosis and treatment of psychopathological episodes marked by an increased hyperreligiosity following a traumatic brain injury. Dr Galiana Abal is writing another book on the role of religious experience and its potential similarities with a psychotherapeutic method. In hr research, Dr Galiana Abal emphasizes the role of religious emotions and practices to reorganize cognitive functions and increase devotee’s resilience.
 
As a psychotherapist, Dr Galiana Abal has experience working with clients of very culturally diverse backgrounds and with members of the LGBTQI community, with a particular emphasis in supporting clients with transgender identities during the sex reassignment process. Dr Galiana Abal also consistently worked as a psychotherapist in private practice and rehabilitation facilities with traumatic brain injury survivors. She has created a psychotherapy method (“Narrative Expressive Therapy”) that combines at-therapy, narrative therapy and psychodrama that has proven efficient in terms of enhancing acquired executive function, working memory and autobiographical memory deficits. She has also worked as a forensic psychologist in numerous cases involving violent crime, assessing offenders and victims. 
 
Dr Galiana Abal is currently operating a significant overhaul of the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology for Ottawa University at Ottawa (KS) that should soon become a “Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology” with an emphasis in Clinical and Forensic Psychology.
 
Some of her main publications involve:
 
PLANCHE, N., GALIANA y ABAL, P., JOUVENCEL (de), M. (2015). Can we identify clinical features in transgender patients in the process of sex reassignment? (Quelles sont les composantes cliniques du transsexualisme ? A propos de 212 cas de demandeurs de réassignation sexuelle. Médecine légale du vivant). N° 5-6, VOL. 58, 1-1.
 
GALIANA y ABAL, P. (2012).  Divine transferences. Potentially therapeutic aspects of ritual offerings in the rite of Darśan (Transferts vers le divin. Aspects potentiellement thérapeutiques
de l‘offrande florale dans la pratique du darśan), Journal des Anthropologues, 123-124, 139-160.
 
GALIANA y ABAL, P. (2009). When God Heals…Darśan as a therapy? In Sébastia, B., Restoring Mental Health in India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 97-124.
 
 
 
 
Teaching Interests:
 
Abnormal Psychology, Theories of Personality, Physiological Psychology, Clinical Neurosciences, Human Neuropsychology, Forensic Psychology, Psychology of Criminal Behavior, Biological Bases of Aggression, Psychology of Gender and Sexual orientation, Sex, Gender and Disability, Sexuality and Identity, TBI, Cognitive and Behavioral Disorders, Theories of Personality, Research Methods in Psychology, Psychology of Religion, Research Methods in Psychology.
 
Research Interests:
 
Dr Galiana Abal in particularly interested in the way religious rituals are often performed to replace psychotherapeutic practices, with different short or long-term results.  She has been studying for many years the devotional Hindu rite of darsan and different prenuptial, wedding and funerary rites in the Nord of India and in Pakistan paying attention to the mental processes (cognitive, affective) they trigger and the emotional different responses of people on whom they were performed. Today, Dr Galiana Abal and her research team members are trying to identify through narrative inquiry, phenomenological methods the different therapeutic processes that religious rituals can sometimes generate in people searching to alleviate a condition that could be qualified as distress or mental illness.
 
As a counterpart of this ritual-based research, Dr Galiana Abal is also the individual and culturally related aspects of psychotherapeutic processes in patients treated Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic inspired Therapy and her self-created Narrative Expressive Therapy, the latter including features belonging to Art-Therapy, Psychodrama and Narrative Therapy. 

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