APS College of Clinical Psychologists

APS College of Clinical Psychologists Student Prize recipients

The Prize is offered at each university with an accredited postgraduate clinical psychology program and acknowledges students who demonstrate high levels of clinical skill and the ability to design and conduct clinically relevant research. 

Detailed information about this award.

 

2014 recipients

Student’s name Clare Russell-Williams
University Australian College of Applied Psychology
Supervisor Professor Lynne Harris
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Trait Mindfulness and Disordered Eating: Contributions of Experiential Avoidance, Rumination, and Impulsivity
Thesis abstract Recently, mindfulness has been applied to eating disorders, with a growing number of studies providing evidence for the utility of mindfulness-based interventions (Masuda & Hill, 2013). However, there remains a paucity of research focusing on the relationship between disordered eating, components of trait mindfulness, and mechanisms implicated in the maintenance of disordered pathology. The current study examined associations between facets of trait mindfulness (observing, describing, acting with awareness, accepting without judgment), rumination, impulsivity, experiential avoidance, and disordered eating. A community sample of 326 men (16.3%) and women (83.7%), aged 18 to 71 years (M = 31.1; SD = 10.08), completed a series of on-line questionnaires measuring disordered eating, trait mindfulness, experiential avoidance, rumination, and impulsivity. Two hierarchical regression analyses revealed that the four mindfulness facets accounted for additional variance in eating pathology above and beyond demographic variables, eating disorder history, rumination, experiential avoidance, and impulsivity. Results indicated that specific facets of trait mindfulness were differentially associated with disordered eating. Lower scores on accepting without judgment were most consistently associated with greater disordered eating. The current study confirms the differential associations between facets of trait mindfulness and disordered eating and provides further information regarding how and why mindfulness-based interventions may be most appropriately used in the treatment of eating psychopathology.
   
Student’s name Jessica Haney
University Australian Catholic University
Supervisor Dr Lyn Vromans
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Relative Contributions of Traumatisation and Acculturative Stress to Depression and Anxiety in Young People from Refugee Backgrounds.     
Thesis abstract In 2013, approximately 7 850 young refugees were resettled in Australia (Department of Immigration and Citizenship, 2013). While we know traumatisation and acculturative stressors impact depression and anxiety levels in adult refugees (Keyes, 2000), no research has examined this finding in young refugees resettled in Australia. Using a cross-sectional survey design the current study hypothesised traumatisation and acculturative stress would be positively correlated with symptoms of depression and anxiety, but when examined together acculturative stress would be a stronger predictor. Participants were 68 young refugee volunteers (53% female) aged 13 to 18 years (Mage = 15.90, SDage = 1.43). Participants completed self-report questionnaires measuring traumatisation, acculturative stress, depression, and anxiety. High proportions of participants reported traumatisation (63%), depression (29%) and anxiety (19%) symptoms at clinical levels. Correlation analyses determined traumatisation and acculturative stress were positively correlated with depression (p = .013 and p < .001 respectively) and anxiety (p = .016 and p = .009 respectively). Standard regression analyses indicated that traumatisation and acculturative stress explained 21% of variance in depression symptoms (p = .001) and 14% of variance in anxiety symptoms (p = .008). Acculturative stress significantly predicted depression (β = .36) and anxiety (β = .25), whereas traumatisation did not significantly predict depression (β = .19) or anxiety (β = .21). The research suggests reducing acculturative stress rather than traumatisation may be more effective in decreasing depression and anxiety symptoms in young refugees resettled in Australia. This finding can potentially inform distribution of resources in educational contexts, as well as psychological assessment and treatment planning.
   
Student’s name Dr Kristy Zwickert
University Australian National University
Supervisor Associate Professor Elizabeth Rieger
Degree completed PhD(Clinical Psychology)
Thesis title An Investigation of technological Interventions to Enhance Support for Weight Management Among Obese Adults
Thesis abstract The widely accepted biopsychosocial model posits that biological, psychological, and sociocultural variables interact in a dynamic manner to reduce an obese individual’s chances of losing weight and sustaining a lower weight in the long-term. Yet social support factors are neglected in much of the obesity treatment literature. This program of research, comprised of a series of qualitative (Study 1), experimental (Study 2), and quantitative (Study 3) studies, presents an examination of social support factors. It considers support experiences from the perspective of obese adults, and evaluates the efficacy and feasibility of two viable adjunct technological interventions to enhance support for longer-term weight management. Study 1, a systematic investigation of social support for weight control, documented obese women’s (n = 22) perceptions of an extensive range of ineffective behaviours demonstrated by significant others that impede healthy eating and physical activity, and identified that participants’ own behaviour may hinder others’ provision of effective support. Given the minimal access to quality social support documented in Study 1, and the identification of various difficulties associated with the development of support skills among non-professionals, Study 2, a randomised controlled treatment trial (n = 60), compared the effectiveness of two adjunct technological strategies, namely text-message and e-mail contact, for extending therapist support for weight control. The results demonstrated that a 12-week cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) group weight loss program combined with adjunct therapist-delivered technological support is effective 6 in assisting obese adults lose weight and sustain anthropometric, psychological, and behavioural improvements at 15-months. This is a unique finding, given known difficulties associated with weight loss maintenance following behavioural interventions. Following the finding that text-message support may be effective for enhancing weight outcomes among obese adults, the final study in this program of research (Study 3) utilised a quantitative design to assess the acceptability and feasibility of text-message support among obese adults (n = 45) following participation in a CBT group weight loss program. The main results showed that text-messaging support was an acceptable adjunct to face-to-face obesity treatment and may provide a low-cost means of improving obese adults’ long-term adherence to weight control behaviours.
   
Student’s name Amy Bannatyne
University Bond University
Supervisor Dr Peta Stapleton
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title The Effectiveness of Educational Interventions in Reducing Negative Attitudes and Stigmatisation toward Patients with Anorexia Nervosa       
Thesis abstract It is frequently reported clinicians across a range of professional disciplines experience strong negative reactions toward eating disorder patients, particularly anorexia nervosa. The present study aimed to develop, evaluate and compare the effectiveness of two differing educational interventions, based on an etiological framing model, against a control group. Participants were fourth-year medicine students (N = 41) randomly assigned to one of three conditions (biogenetic vs multifactorial vs control). Three-hour educational workshops were delivered to intervention participants at the commencement of an eight-week clinical rotation. Outcome attitudinal data were collected pre- and post-intervention, and at follow-up eight weeks post-intervention. It was hypothesised intervention participants would exhibit significantly lower volitional stigma scores and more positive attitudes toward AN at post-intervention, and this effect would be maintained at follow-up when compared to the control group. The greatest stigma-reduction effect was expected in the biogenetic group, consistent with Attribution Theory. Results indicated intervention participations exhibited significantly lower volitional stigma scores compared to the control group, who exhibited no change in attitudes or stigma. Specifically, intervention participants had significantly lower total ED stigma scores, level of blame, perceptions of AN as a selfish/vain illness, and viewed sufferers’ as less responsible for their illness. As expected, intervention effects were maintained from post-intervention to follow-up. No significant differences were observed between intervention groups immediately post-intervention or at follow-up. Overall, the study provides preliminary evidence brief targeted interventions can assist in reducing levels of volitional stigma toward AN.
   
Student’s name Miss Zoe Alicia Passarella
University Cairnmillar Institute
Supervisor Dr Erin Pearson
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Enhancing Understanding and Engagement with Vulnerable Children and Families: The Effect of a Six-session Psychotherapeutic Intervention for Pre School Field Officers     
Thesis abstract Early childhood intervention plays a critical role in ameliorating developmental vulnerabilities, and contributes to long-term health and well-being. The challenge for early intervention lies in accessing vulnerable families in order to facilitate intervention. Professionals working in pre-service environments are typically well trained to work with children, but often receive little support for their work involving parents. This study sought to evaluate the effectiveness of providing psychotherapeutic training and supervision, to enhance understanding and engagement capacity, in a subset of early childhood intervention professionals in Victoria known as Preschool Field Officers (PSFOs). Seven participants undertook the standardised six-session psychotherapeutic training and supervision program, while the remaining seven formed the waitlist control group. All participants completed pre- and post-program quantitative measures on PSFO confidence in understanding and engaging parents of vulnerable children, and facilitating teacher understanding and engagement. PSFOs in the intervention group also participated in semi-structured focus groups at the conclusion of the program. Quantitative results revealed no significant difference between the groups on self-efficacy to facilitate teacher understanding of developmental vulnerability. There was, however, a significant increase in self-efficacy to facilitate parent-teacher engagement over time for the intervention, but not the waitlist, group. Similarly, PSFO self-efficacy to understand and engage parents of developmentally vulnerable children significantly increased over time for the intervention, yet not the waitlist, condition. The qualitative results add further weight to these findings, with PSFOs highlighting numerous benefits of the program. The findings suggest that this form of training can build reflective function and attunement, enhancing PSFOs’ understanding and engagement with vulnerable families, thus facilitating service involvement and improving child outcomes. Future studies should aim to include more objective measures of PSFO engagement capacity and consider collecting data from both parents and teachers. Utilising a randomised controlled design, and greater participant numbers, would provide further support for psychotherapeutic training and supervision programs in enhancing engagement capacity in early childhood professionals.
   
Student’s name Stacey Koniw
University Central Queensland University
Supervisor Professor Kevin Ronan
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title The Psychological Effects of Sexual Coercion: Victimisation, Gender and Age Differences.  
Thesis abstract This study examined the prevalence of sexual coercive experiences and the psychological effects of those who have and have not experienced physical sexual coercion. Differences across age groups, relationship to perpetrator and number of sexually coercive experiences were also explored. Sixty three participants (14% males, 86% females, mean age = 40.29 years, SD = 14.32) were recruited from the social networking site Facebook.com to take part in an online survey. Participants were asked to provide ratings in relation to sexual experiences, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, trauma (dissociation, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, sexual problems), fear of intimacy, self-esteem and sexual promiscuity. The results revealed those who experienced physical sexual coercion had higher levels of self-reported post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, generally more trauma symptoms (i.e., anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, sexual problems), fear of intimacy and lower self-esteem than non-victims and those physically sexually coerced multiple times had higher self-reported symptoms than those coerced once. However, those who experienced physical sexual coercion twice had higher levels of dissociation than those experiencing this trauma three times. No differences were found for sexual promiscuity. Furthermore, in general relatives and partners caused more psychological effects than other relationships to the perpetrator. No differences between age groups were found nor were any interactions found to be significant. Prevalence data, implications, limitations and suggested future research are discussed.
   
Student’s name Jeremy Paul Goldring
University Charles Darwin University
Supervisor Kate Moore, PhD
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Network analysis of an Australian GP super clinic: assessing the integrated primary care model and referral pathways for mental health care provision    
Thesis abstract The aims of this project were (1) to assess whether co-location of health practitioners within an Australian GP super clinic leads to increased referrals within that network of practitioners, and (2) to explore motivations and barriers to referring to other specialists within versus outside this network. Referrals to mental health practitioners were selected as an illustrative case. A secondary objective was to investigate GP decision-making about which types of mental health professionals they refer to, and especially whether a distinction was made between clinical and registered psychologists. Social network analysis was used to map the referral pathways between GPs (n = 18) located at a GP super clinic located in the Northern Territory and a range of mental health practitioners either located at the super clinic (n = 3) or external to the organisation (n = 45). Data were obtained through electronic archival records of referrals that occurred during the six month period between 1st January and 30th June 2013. The analysis was supplemented by interviews with two GPs from the super clinic. Social network and interview data both indicated that GPs strongly preferred to refer to mental health practitioners located at the super clinic rather than external practitioners. The three internal practitioners received 17.19% of all possible referrals, despite only comprising 6.25% of the mental health practitioners in the network, and all were rated highly on measures of in-degree, weighted in-degree and centrality to the network. The GPs both stated that the super clinic promoted opportunities for collaborative patient care. Reasons cited for preference for referring internally included convenience, opportunities for face-to-face case discussion, and knowledge of and trust in the clinical skills of those practitioners. Decisions about mental health referrals were based on similar factors, with the distinction between clinical and registered psychologists not an important factor in referral decisions. Implications for the Australian GP super clinic model and for the psychology workforce are discussed.
   
Student’s name Lara Elizabeth Coventry Winten
University Charles Sturt University
Supervisor Dr Stephanie Quinton
Degree completed Doctor of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title A Comprehensive Evaluation of a Day Patient Treatment Program for Eating Disorders        
Thesis abstract

Day patient (DP) programs represent a significant development in the treatment of eating disorders, however currently there is a dearth of literature evaluating the effectiveness of DP treatment based upon the targeted goals of treatment. This study aimed to explore the effectiveness and short-term stability of an Australian DP program by examining change across the seven key goals of treatment using a naturalistic pre-post-follow-up study design. The seven DP program goals were informed by the transdiagnostic cognitive behavioural theory of eating disorders (T-CBT; Fairburn, Cooper, & Shafran, 2003) and included reduced eating disordered cognitions, increased readiness to change, increased quality of life, reduced perpetuating factors, reduced co- morbid factors, weight stabilisation within the healthy weight range, and reduced eating disordered behaviours. The objectives of the study were to: (1) provide a thorough description of the treatment components of the DP program under investigation; (2) undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the DP program based on all seven treatment goals informed by the T-CBT model; (3) evaluate the short-term stability of any treatment effects three months after discharge; (4) identify characteristics of patients who drop-out of treatment and patients who complete the program with poor outcomes; (5) identify predictors of treatment completion and good outcome; and (6) explore the impact of treatment dose, admission length, and treatment intensity on patient outcomes. The sample included 75 participants meeting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000) criteria for an eating disorder who were admitted to the eating disorders DP program at the Northside Clinic in Sydney. Participants completed measures assessing eating disordered cognitions, readiness to change, quality of life, perpetuating factors, co- morbid factors, body mass index (BMI), and eating disordered behaviours. Fifty-eight patients completed the DP program and 17 dropped-out of treatment. The results demonstrated that there were significant improvements between admission and discharge across all seven targeted areas of treatment, which were maintained at three month follow-up. As recommended in the DP treatment literature, three outcome groups (drop-out, good outcome, poor outcome) were determined according to definitions outlined by Mahon (2000). Identified predictors of program completion included independent living and attendance travel time of one hour or less. Good outcome was predicted by BMI at admission. Participants with good outcome attended an equivalent number of treatment days to participants with poor outcome, however they remained admitted to the DP program for a longer period of time and attended less intensively each week. The results are discussed in the context of other published studies, and potential directions for future research are suggested.

   
Student’s name Karla Cloke
University Curtin University
Supervisor Dr Trevor Mazzucchelli
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Stepping Stones Triple P Discussion Group: Targeting Child Disobedience in a Mixed Disability Sample   
Thesis abstract Children with a disability have been found to display significantly more problem behaviour compared to typically developing children. Without effective early intervention, children with disabilities are also at increased risk of mental health issues and accompanying difficulties that do not typically disappear over time. These challenges have been found to increase parental stress, parental psychopathology, as well as relationship conflict and marital dissatisfaction. Despite the extensive empirical support found for the benefits of parenting interventions for both parents and children, many parents still do not access such assistance. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of a brief 2-hour, topic-focused discussion group for parents of children with a disability who also show defiant behaviour. Twenty-six parents of children with a mixed range of disabilities aged 3-8 years participated in the study. Results indicated significant short-term intervention effects on the primary outcome variable; parents in the intervention group reported a significant pre-post improvement in child behaviour, as measured via parental self-report and parental behavioural observations. However, no intervention effects were found for parental adjustment, self-efficacy or dysfunctional parenting. These results are discussed in the context of the limitations of the study and directions for future research.
   
Student’s name Angie Jaman
University Deakin University
Supervisor Associate Professor David Austin
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Evaluation of an Ultra-brief Psycho-education and Referral Intervention provided to Patients presenting to a Hospital Emergency Department with symptoms of Panic Attack
Thesis abstract People experiencing panic attacks (PA) frequently present to hospital emergency departments (ED) due to physical symptoms which suggest life-threatening conditions such as heart attack, and/or psychological concerns such as overestimating the danger in their environment. The current study attempted to evaluate the effectiveness of an ultra-brief psycho-education and referral intervention, a panic information card (PIC), currently distributed to panickers at three Victorian EDs. Participants were a convenience sample of 72 individuals (20 males and 51 females) with a mean age of 32.6 years who had presented to an ED for panic symptoms in the past 12 months. Individuals self-identified as either a card recipient (CR) or a non-card recipient (NCR). Additionally, two senior staff members from two participating EDs were interviewed for their assessment of the effectiveness of the PIC. It was hypothesised that CRs would; 1) review the PIC favourably; 2) be more likely to seek help for PA than NCRs; 3) seek help sooner than NCRs; and 4) seek help on fewer occasions post-intervention than NCRs. Staff (n = 2) were hypothesised to review the card favourably and as a simple and useful addition to ED practice. Both CRs and staff reviewed the PIC favourably, though there were no significant differences in help-seeking behaviour or time taken to access help between card recipients and non-card recipients. CRs sought help on significantly fewer occasions than NCRs. ED staff reported that the PIC was a simple and useful addition to hospital practice. Despite limitations of non-randomisation and modest sample size, the study supports the potential of ultra-brief ED-based interventions to expedite mental health referral, decrease the number of visits to ED by panickers, reduce financial costs for the medical system, and increase psycho-education of sufferers.
   
Student’s name David Andrew Preece
University Edith Cowan University
Supervisor Professor Alfred Allan
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Neuropsychological Outcomes after Treatment in an Adult Recurrent Craniopharyngioma Patient and the Effect of Stereotactic Radiotherapy as an Adjunct Intervention: A Case Study       
Thesis abstract Limited data are available regarding the neuropsychological profile of adult patients with craniopharyngioma brain tumours, particularly for those with recurrent tumours, and for those whose tumours have been treated using modern techniques. Hence, two research questions were the focus of this study: What are the neuropsychological outcomes for an adult recurrent craniopharyngioma patient two years after receiving treatment in the microsurgery era? What impact does a further intervention, stereotactic radiotherapy, have on this level of neuropsychological functioning? These aims were achieved by examining the case of JD, a 30 year old male recurrent craniopharyngioma patient who two years earlier had surgical and conventional radiotherapy treatments. JD was assessed (using battery of standardised clinical tests) before and after a course of stereotactic radiotherapy. Prior to stereotactic radiotherapy (and two years after surgery and conventional radiotherapy) JD’s intelligence and emotional regulation abilities were intact, but considerable impairments were present in executive functioning, memory, processing speed and theory of mind. Following stereotactic radiotherapy, no declines in neuropsychological performance were evident, and memory, processing speed and theory of mind improved. These findings suggest that substantial cognitive deficits can be present in an adult recurrent craniopharyngioma patient, even after the tumour has been treated using modern techniques; emphasising the need to consider neuropsychological impairments as a focus of rehabilitation with this population. Furthermore, the results after stereotactic radiotherapy demonstrate that this specific intervention can be administered to an adult with no detrimental impact on cognitive functioning, thus supporting the utility of this treatment option.
   
Student’s name Kate Beesley
University Federation University Australia (formerly University of Ballarat)
Supervisor Dr Peter Gill
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Exploring the Predictors of Aggression in Adult Men and Women
Thesis abstract Theoretical frameworks and research evidence have suggested that anxiety, narcissism and emotional intelligence may influence aggressive behaviour. The current study aimed to explore gender differences in aggressive behaviours in a sample of 207 adults (87 males and 120 females). To assess the influence of these variables on aggressive behaviour, participants were asked to complete the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI; Speilberger, 1970), Narcissism Personality Inventory 16 (NPI-16; Ames, Rose, & Anderson, 2006), the Emotional Intelligence Scale (EIS; Schutte et al., 1998) and the Aggression Questionnaire (Buss & Perry, 1992). In females, predictive path models were produced to explain the path towards overt and indirect aggression. The overt aggression model suggested that young women who are prone to narcissism and anxiety are more likely to engage in overt aggression. The indirect aggression model suggested that young women who have high emotional regulation skills are prone to anxiety and are subsequently more likely to engage in indirect aggression. In men, age and narcissism predicted overt aggression while only age predicted indirect aggression. The results demonstrated that men and women do differ in the psychological factors that contribute to their aggressive behaviour, and also provided a deeper understanding of aggression pathways in women. The implications of these results are that women are not simply passive agents that do not aggress and must therefore be recognised in research and treatment planning. 
   
Student’s name Tomoko Nishizawa
University Flinders University
Supervisor Professor Neil Brewer
Degree completed Doctor of Philosophy (Clinical Psychology)
Thesis title Effects of Lineup Members’ Facial Characteristics and Demeanour on Eyewitness Identification Performance
Thesis abstract The composition of a police lineup can affect the accuracy of identification decisions made by witnesses. This has been demonstrated, for example, by experimental manipulations of variables such as lineup functional size, suspect-filler similarity and the closeness of the match between a suspect and a witness’ description of the culprit. This thesis investigated whether other characteristics of lineup members, such as how familiar, distinctive and memorable they appeared, affected witnesses’ perceptions of the likelihood that a particular member was the culprit, perceptions that might affect the likelihood of false identifications of innocent suspects or incorrect rejections of culprits. Experiments 1 and 2 explored the possibility that a smile displayed by an innocent suspect in a photospread may arouse a sense of familiarity, biasing the photospread against the suspect and increasing the risk of false identifications. Although a smile consistently aroused a sense of familiarity, Experiments 1 and 2 provided mixed results regarding its effect on witnesses’ perceptions of the degree of resemblance between the suspect and the culprit. Using an odd-looking smile, Experiment 3 unexpectedly showed the reverse effect, with the smile making the innocent suspect appear unfamiliar, leading to the perception that the suspect was unlikely to be the culprit. Experiment 4 demonstrated that, in addition to inducing unfamiliarity, an odd smile on the face of the culprit in a photospread made the culprit appear distinctive and memorable, leading to witnesses perceiving the culprit presented in the lineup as an unlikely match to be the culprit. Experiments 5 and 6 manipulated the perceived distinctiveness, memorability and unfamiliarity of the culprit using various other cues to explore further how such perceptions might contribute to the culprit presented in a photospread being falsely perceived as an unlikely match to be the culprit. That is, encoding conditions were such that participants could not see all of the culprit’s face. Later they viewed a photospread containing the culprit, who had a prominent physical feature (e.g., beard, tattoo) on the previously concealed part of his or her face. The presentation of the physical feature increased the likelihood of an inaccurate perception that the culprit presented in the lineup was not the actual culprit, particularly when participants felt certain that the culprit did not have the feature. Taken together, these studies indicate that the facial characteristics and the demeanour of the suspect or the culprit in a lineup have the potential to affect the accuracy of eyewitness identifications. For example, the presence of some cue that makes an innocent suspect appear familiar may increase the risk of false identifications. Conversely, if for some reason, a culprit appears unexpectedly more memorable than the witnesses’ memory of that person, the risk of incorrect rejections may increase.
   
Student’s name Bonnie Clough
University Griffith University
Supervisor Dr Leanne Casey
Degree completed PhD (Clinical) (in progress) Please note, nominee has finished all coursework & placements and submitted her thesis which is under examination
Thesis title

Technological Adjuncts to Increase Adherence to Therapy: The Role of Mobile Phones                       

Thesis abstract The aim of this thesis was to investigate the use of mobile phones as an adjunct to face-to-face psychotherapy. This aim was developed from two structured reviews of the literature concerning the types of adjunctive technologies in use, and the ways in which they have been used to increase adherence. Adjunctive use of the mobile phone was investigated in regards to its capacity to achieve greater client adherence and engagement in therapy, in order to facilitate improved treatment outcomes and client satisfaction. This overarching aim and hypothesis was investigated in three empirical studies, presented as a series of published and unpublished papers. Study One investigated the use of Short Message Service (SMS) appointment reminders. It was predicted that the SMS prompts, delivered the day prior to a scheduled appointment at an outpatient psychology clinic, would decrease client non-attendance and dropout. In a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT), 140 participants were allocated to either receive SMS appointment reminders or to receive no reminders. No significant differences were found between the two conditions in relation to client attendance. Dropout was higher in the SMS condition than in the no SMS condition. It was concluded that the SMS reminders did not increase client adherence to appointment attendance behaviours. This study also highlighted the importance of careful examination of technological interventions before dissemination. Study Two therefore examined the feasibility and acceptability of daily SMSs relating to client adherence behaviours during therapy. This study reports on the initial findings of an ongoing RCT examining the effects of a daily SMS intervention in a structured group therapy program. Thirty-two participants (from an original sample size of 67 from the ongoing RCT) had been randomly allocated to receive the daily messages. Measures relating to treatment outcome, engagement, satisfaction, and acceptability of the intervention were administered. Satisfaction and acceptability with the program and the SMS intervention was high. Participants reported finding the SMSs to be encouraging, supportive and motivational. Participants also reported that they believed they would have engaged somewhat less with between session therapeutic tasks without the messages. The final study in this thesis reports on the development of a web-based Smartphone application, namely, “PsychAssist”. PsychAssist was designed to increase client enjoyment and engagement with therapeutic tasks, in particular to between session or homework activities. It was predicted that this increase in engagement and adherence would facilitate improved treatment outcomes and reduced risk of relapse. During pilot testing it was found that the web-based version of PsychAssist resulted in reduced functionality on some operating platforms (e.g., Android), suggesting that further development of the application is required. Despite the problems experienced, client satisfaction and acceptability with the intervention were high. These results are consistent with findings of Study Two, suggesting that clients are ready and interested in engaging with the mobile phone as an adjunctive technology to therapy. Together with the two reviews, the three studies reported in this thesis demonstrate that mobile phones hold considerable promise as adjunctive technology to psychotherapy. Clients were accepting of the technologies and enjoyed engaging with them in therapy. However, as the findings of Study One indicate, caution is required to ensure that adjunctive technologies are used for the optimal benefit of clients. The final paper in this thesis integrates the findings of these three studies with an updated review of the literature and discusses the implications, limitations, and directions for future research. Specific focus is given to new technologies such as sensors and wearable devices and the capacity for the use of adjunctive technologies to enhance current psychotherapy practices.
   
Student’s name Eliza Mary Jean Birtles
University James Cook University
Supervisor Dr Anne Swinbourne
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Exploring the role of individual factors and socio-cultural factors on perceptions and experience of climate change and engagement in pro-environmental behaviour 
Thesis abstract Climate change research has predominantly focused on the potential direct physical impacts on human health outcomes. Less well known are the psychological components of climate change and how these influence public engagement on this issue. In particular, the psychological impacts of natural disaster events have been considered as potential future consequences of climate change. However, the experience of current psychological distress in response to considering the future-oriented threat of climate change consequences and the impact this has on level of engagement in mitigating behaviour is less well known. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of the personality factors of optimism, self-efficacy and locus of control on the perception of climate change and consequent experience of distress and behavioural engagement. Additionally, exposure to natural disaster events, as a salient representation of potential future consequences of climate change, was explored in terms of the impact on affective and behavioural engagement. It was hypothesised that individuals high in optimism, self-efficacy, internal locus of control, and pro-environmental orientation, and low in external locus of control, would perceive climate change to be less threatening and consequently experience lower distress and engage in more pro-environmental behaviours. A sample of 321 participants was recruited, with 67% residents of Australia and 24% residents of Singapore. Results indicated that people’s personality influenced the perception of climate change and engagement in pro-environmental behaviour. Significant differences found between the two location groups were explored in terms of the impact of exposure to natural disasters on outcomes. Perceived control was found to significantly influence affective and behavioural engagement with climate change.
   
Student’s name Rebecca McStay
University La Trobe University
Supervisor Prof Cheryl Dissanayake and Dr Amanda Richdale
Degree completed Doctorate of Clinical Psychology
Thesis title Raising a Child With Autism: A developmental perspective on family adaptation.         
Thesis abstract NOT PROVIDED
   
Student’s name Carly Johnco
University Macquarie University
Supervisor Dr Viviana Wuthrich & Professor Ronald Rapee
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)/PhD
Thesis title Learning cognitive restructuring in later life: The role of cognitive flexibility on cognitive restructuring skill acquisition in older adults with anxiety and depression.
Thesis abstract Although there is consistent evidence supporting the efficacy of cognitive behaviour therapy for late-life anxiety and depression, there are still some suggestions that the use of cognitive restructuring should be modified or minimized with older adults due to declines in flexible and abstract thinking. There is some evidence that poorer executive functioning negatively impacts on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) efficacy, although it is unclear what specific executive functioning skills are important and what treatment components are affected. Older adults experience some age-related decline in cognitive flexibility skills, including the ability to consider multiple ideas, flexibly switch cognitive sets and inhibit habitual responding; skills which intuitively seem important for the successful use of cognitive restructuring. This thesis aimed to examine the role of cognitive flexibility on cognitive restructuring skill acquisition in older adults through four papers. The first paper examined the measurement of cognitive flexibility, comparing neuropsychological assessment and self-report measures in an older adults. The second paper examined the role of cognitive flexibility on cognitive restructuring skill acquisition in a normal community-dwelling sample of older adults. The third paper extended these findings, assessing cognitive restructuring skills in older adults with and without anxiety and depression, and the influence of cognitive flexibility on this relationship. The final paper investigated the role of pre-treatment cognitive flexibility as a predictor of cognitive restructuring skill acquisition at the end of a group CBT intervention for late-life anxiety and depression, and as a predictor of treatment outcome. The results are expected to inform clinical practice for conducting CBT with older adults, and build on emerging research into treatment moderators and mediators for late-life anxiety and depression.
   
Student’s name Katrina Elise Parker
University Monash University
Supervisor A/Prof Leah Brennan
Degree completed

Doctor of Psychology (Clinical Psychology)

Thesis title Assessment of Disordered Eating in Bariatric Surgery Patients: Diagnosis, Measurement and Psychometric Evaluation     
Thesis abstract Eating disorders and disordered eating are prevalent in adults seeking surgical interventions for weight loss. While bariatric surgery is more effective than non-surgical interventions for weight loss and amelioration of physical health comorbidities, research findings are inconsistent regarding the impact of surgery on disordered eating and the impact of disordered eating on surgical outcomes. Not all bariatric surgery patients achieve optimal outcomes following surgery, and disordered eating may be one of the factors correlated with poorer outcomes. However, assessment in the existing literature has been plagued by methodological limitations, which limits the interpretation of current findings. Reliable and valid measurement is critical to inform assessment of suitability for surgery and enable identification of individuals who may benefit from treatment for disordered eating. This research systematically reviews and empirically examines the definition, diagnosis and measurement of disordered eating in bariatric surgery patients. Two systematic literature reviews were conducted to critically evaluate current approaches to the assessment of disordered eating in bariatric surgery candidates (pre-surgery) and patients (post-surgery). The reviews identify the definitions and diagnostic criteria applied to disordered eating, the measures used, and the psychometric evaluation of measures in the bariatric surgery population. The reviews also identify amendments to criteria and measures for the bariatric surgery population and offer a critique of the strengths and limitations of these measures when used for the purpose of assessment in this population. Results of the systematic reviews indicate that assessment of disordered eating is characterised by huge variability in measures and diagnostic criteria and extremely limited psychometric evaluation of measures in the bariatric surgery population. Informed by the systematic reviews, two empirical studies were conducted in patients before and after surgery to investigate the psychometric properties of disordered eating measures in the bariatric surgery population. Data from four hundred and five bariatric surgery candidates was collected via a pre-surgical battery of disordered eating measures (Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q), Questionnaire on Eating and Weight Patterns Revised (QEWP-R), Three Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ), Clinical Impairment Assessment (CIA)), and the EDE interview. Approximately 12 months following surgery, a longitudinal subset of 108 bariatric surgery patients completed the same battery of self-report measures. Analyses were conducted to determine the factor structure, reliability, and construct and criterion validity of the measures. Results indicate that the CIA is the only reliable and valid measure when administered in its original form in bariatric surgery candidates. In post-surgical patients, none of the measures demonstrated validity for use in their original form. Consequently, revised factor structures and item-reduction were required in order for measures to meet minimum psychometric standards. Based on the psychometric data, the measure recommended for assessing the severity of eating-related pathology is a revised version of the EDE-Q, and the only measure recommended for diagnostic assessment is the EDE. For assessment of functional impairment, the CIA shows promise as a valuable measure but requires further refinement before being used in both pre- and post-surgical populations. The findings of this thesis have implications for research and clinical practice regarding the assessment of disordered eating in the bariatric surgery population. To date, the paucity of psychometric evaluation and lack of consensus on diagnostic criteria and measures have impacted the research literature reporting the prevalence of disordered eating, disordered eating outcomes following surgery, and the impact of disordered eating on surgical success. This thesis provides recommendations to inform the use of evidence-based assessments and improve the identification and assessment of disordered eating in this population. It is hoped that findings of this thesis will prompt the adoption of more reliable and valid assessment practices, leading to more accurate identification and treatment of disordered eating and consequently improved biopsychosocial outcomes for the bariatric surgery population.
   
Student’s name Rebecca New
University Murdoch University
Supervisor Dr Helen Correia and Dr Christopher Lee
Degree completed Master of Applied Psychology in Clinical Psychology
Thesis title The Experiences of Imagery Rescripting in Group Schema Therapy for Patients with Borderline Personality Disorder 
Thesis abstract Borderline personality disorder [BPD] is a chronic psychological condition that markedly impacts on functioning and increases risk of suicide. Schema therapy [ST] has emerged as an efficacious treatment for BPD for which imagery rescripting is a critical experiential technique used to alter maladaptive schema modes underlying BPD psychopathology. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore experiences of imagery techniques and imagery rescripting for BPD patients in group-ST. Audiovisual recordings of patient responses to imagery and imagery rescripting in group-ST were analysed using thematic analysis, and three categories of themes were explored: first experiences of imagery in group-ST; experiences of more advanced imagery techniques; and experiences of imagery rescripting. The study exposed the tensions and difficulties experienced by the patients which impacted on their engagement in imagery and imagery rescripting. Furthermore, there was a noticeable influence of patients’ experiences of earlier imagery work on imagery rescripting. The implications of these findings were discussed, including the need for additional support to help patients develop skills that will enhance experiences of group-based imagery rescripting. Finally, recommendations for future research were provided.
   
Student’s name Jayne Alison Orr
University Queensland University of Technology
Supervisor Professor Robert King
Degree completed Professional Doctorate of Clinical Psychology
Thesis title Do mobile phones offer a feasible and acceptable medium to prevent depression in young unemployed job-seekers?                 
Thesis abstract This project explored the feasibility and acceptability of using mobile phone text messages to prevent depression in young unemployed job-seekers by building their resilience. Overall, young unemployed Australians were receptive to an intervention designed to alleviate the adversity associated with unemployment and job-seeking by communicating positive, practical, and connectedness-type text messages to combat depression and social isolation and build resilience. This finding is important because most young people worldwide own mobile phones, feel comfortable sending and receiving text messages, and text messaging is a simple, cost effective intervention that can be delivered easily on a large scale.
   
Student’s name Bridget Spicer
University RMIT
Supervisor A/Prof David Smith
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Mental illness and housing outcomes among a sample of homeless men in an Australian urban centre.
Thesis abstract The overrepresentation of mental illness among homeless people across the globe is well documented. However, there is a dearth of Australian literature outlining the mental health needs of homeless individuals. Furthermore, longitudinal research examining the factors that contribute to better housing outcomes among this population is sparse. The aim of this research was to describe the mental illness profile of a sample of homeless men in an Australian urban centre and examine what factors were associated with better housing outcomes at 12‐months follow‐up. Participants included 253 homeless men who were involved in the Michael Project; a three-year initiative which combined existing accommodation support services with assertive case management and access to additional specialist allied health and support services. One hundred and seven participants were followed-up 12 months later. Consistent with existing literature, mental illness was significantly greater amongst this sample than the general Australian population. However, mental illness presentation was not associated with housing situation at 12-months follow-up. Instead, type of support service at baseline was the best predictor of housing outcome. The implications of these results for policy and intervention in the homelessness sector are discussed.
   
Student’s name Ms Sherryn Tobin
University Swinburne University of Technology
Supervisor Roger Cook
Degree completed Doctor of Psychology (Clinical Psychology)
Thesis title Outcomes of Isolated and Multiple Persistent Regulatory Problems at Age 24 Months: Follow-up of the Baby Business Randomised Controlled Trial  
Thesis abstract Background: Infant regulatory problems such as crying, sleeping and feeding difficulties are reported by around 20% of parents in the first year of life, and such problems can persist. Few studies have explored outcomes of multiple or co-occurring regulatory problems that persist beyond the first year, and none have explored their impact on child and family health-related quality of life or parent fatigue. This thesis aimed to address these gaps. Method. Design: Longitudinal study nested within the Baby Business randomised controlled trial. Parent-completed questionnaires at infant age four weeks then four, six, and 24 months. Setting & Participants: Families attending routine health check in Melbourne, Australia. Predictor: Persistent crying, sleeping and/or feeding problems at 24 month follow-up (range 0-3). Children were defined as having a persistent problem if their parent reported that the regulatory behaviour was a problem at either four and/or six months; and the same ‘type’ of regulatory problem (i.e., crying, sleeping or feeding) was reported at the 24 month follow-up. Outcomes (24 months): Child internalising and externalising behaviours (Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL)), child and family health related quality of life (PedsQL), parent fatigue (R-FAS), parent mental health (DASS) and health service use. Analyses: Regression models fitted separately for each outcome, adjusted for the sum of regulatory problems between infant age 4 weeks and 6 months (early problems; range 1-9), gender, child age, birth order, maternal education, socioeconomic position, trial arm status, and baseline maternal depression scores. Results: 503 of 671 (75%) families were retained at 24 months. The prevalence of children without a persistent regulatory problem was 56%, with 30% of children having one, 11% two, and 3% three persistent problems. Adjusted analyses demonstrated that child, parent and family functioning worsened as the number of persistent problems increased. Families of children with persistent problems utilised more health services to manage child behaviour and parent stress, compared to families of children with no persistent problems. Conclusion: Whilst for the majority of children crying, sleeping and feeding problems are limited to the first year of life, just under half experience persistent problems. Given the dose response relationship between persistent regulatory problems and child, parent and family functioning, clinicians should routinely enquire about regulatory problems on multiple occasions across at least the first two years of life. The amount and diverse range of health services utilised by families of children with persistent problems, highlights the familial and societal costs of regulatory problems.
   
Student’s name Emily Claire Hunt
University University of Adelaide
Supervisor Dr Rachel Roberts & Dr Jacqueline Gould
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Predicting Behavioural Outcomes of Preterm Children Using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development 
Thesis abstract The Bayley Scales of Infant Development - Second Edition (BSID-II) is widely used in follow-up of preterm infants, to identify those at-risk for poor outcomes and guide early intervention.  This study examined the predictive value of BSID-II for behavioural outcomes of preterm children at school age.  Data from the DHA for the Improvement of Neurodevelopmental Outcome in preterm infants (DINO) randomized controlled trial (N = 657) was utilised. Infants born very or extremely preterm (<33 weeks gestation at birth) were assessed at 18 months corrected age (CA) with the BSDI-II and parent-report questionnaires of child behaviour problems (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function and Conners 3rd Edition ADHD Index) were administered at 7 years.  Generalised estimating equations (GEEs) were used to account for clustered data and linear mixed-effects models were conducted, controlling for clinical characteristics associated with neurodevelopmental outcome.  Results indicated small, but statistically significant effects for BSID-II scores at 18 months for prediction of emotional and behavioural problems, executive functioning behaviour and inattention/hyperactivity at 7 years.  This highlights the limitations of the BSID-II as a stand-alone developmental assessment in follow-up of preterm infants.  Minimal evidence for the predictive capacity of the BSID-II questions its widespread application in clinical practice.  Extension of follow-up assessment or supplementation with neurobehavioural measures should be considered.
   
Student’s name Jackie Hooper
University University of Canberra
Supervisor Associate Professor Lynne Magor-Blatch
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Life after bushfire: Stress, coping, growth, and a sense of place  
Thesis abstract The thesis examined the manner in which individuals cope, grow, and find benefit in the adverse circumstances of bushfires in Australia; and the ways in which and individual's sense of place impacts on their psychological experience of the event. The results indicated that increased posttraumatic stress was associated with the use of all coping strategies, as well as higher levels of posttraumatic growth, but not with a sense of place. However, a greater sense of place, along with the use of coping strategies, was associated with higher levels of posttraumatic growth. Coping strategies did not relate to a sense of place. Importantly, the finding that an increase sense of place is associated with higher levels of posttraumatic growth is a valuable contribution to the literature in highlighting the unique ways in which individual and disaster related variables interact within the context of bushfires.
   
Student’s name Lucy Vernon
University University of Melbourne
Supervisor Carol Hulbert, Lesley Bretherton, Maria McCarthy
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Rates and risk factors associated with psychological distress in parents of infant patients and infant siblings in families with a paediatric cancer diagnosis   
Thesis abstract The current study provides the first indication of rates of elevated depression, anxiety and cancer-related post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and ‘partial’ or ‘diagnostic’ posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among parents of infants in families with a paediatric cancer diagnosis. Predictive relationships between demographic variables (parents’ age, education and number of children in the household) and illness-related variables (child age at diagnosis, time since diagnosis and diagnosis type) and rates of distress symptoms were also explored. Participants of the study were mothers (n=41) and fathers (n=25) of infants under two years, who either had a paediatric cancer diagnosis (n=37; infant patients) or had an older sibling with a paediatric cancer diagnosis (n=29; infant siblings). Participants were recruited from families currently receiving treatment at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne/ Participating parents completed the short form of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS-21) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist- Civilian (PCL-C) a minimum three months post their child’s cancer diagnosis. Using the symptom cluster method of the PCL-C, 20.0% of mothers and 12.5% of fathers met criteria for cancer-related ‘diagnostic’ PTSD and a further 17.5% of mothers and 20.8% of fathers met criteria for cancer-related ‘partial’ PTSD. Using a cut-score of >30 on the PCL-C, 47.5% of mothers and 377.5% of fathers reported elevated posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS). Using a cut-score of 14 on the DASS-21, 12.2% of mothers and 12.0% of fathers reported elevated levels of depressive symptoms. Seventeen percent (17.1%) of mothers and 8.0% of fathers reported elevated anxiety symptoms using a cut-score of 10. Inconsistent with study hypotheses, no significant differences in rates of PTSS, depression or anxiety symptoms were detected between mothers and fathers, although there was a trend towards higher rates of symptoms among mothers. Exploratory analyses found that parents of infant siblings reported significantly higher rates of depressive symptoms and trends towards higher rates of PTSS and anxiety symptoms than parents of infant patients. Providing partial support for study hypotheses, the number of children in the household emerged as a significant predictor of PTSS and depressive symptoms. In addition, anxiety symptoms were found to significantly increase with time since diagnosis. Rates of elevated distress symptoms found within the current study suggest parents of infants within the paediatric oncology population experience higher rates of PTSS but lower rates of depression and anxiety than parents of other infant illness populations. These results provide further support for the application of a traumatic stress framework in exploring the distress of parents of paediatric cancer patients. Recommendations are provided for future research aimed an examining the psychological reactions of parents within the paediatric cancer population.
   
Student’s name Alexandra Jane Crawford
University University of New England
Supervisor Dr Gavin Clark and Dr Adam Rock
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Cultural dimensions and social anxiety symptoms: The role of independent and interdependent self-construal    
Thesis abstract Clark and Wells (1995) cognitive conceptualisation of Social Anxiety Disorder has, as important components, a person’s social context, self-perception and early social environment, all of which are influenced by cultural context. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between social anxiety and the cultural dimensions of independent and interdependent self-construal. The study examined whether participants’ self-construal scores related to levels of social anxiety and distress experienced in five specific social domains. One hundred and fifty two participants, Australian residents with a mean age of 32 years (SD = 11.9), completed an online survey including demographics questions, the Self-Construal Scale (SCS), Inventory of Interpersonal Situations – Distress Scale (IIS-D) and the Social Interaction Anxiety and Social Phobia Short Form Scales (SIAS-6 & SPS-6). Results indicated that interdependence scores significantly predicted social interaction anxiety and discomfort when expressing opinions, and independence scores significantly (and negatively) predicted social interaction anxiety, anxiety related to the potential of negative judgment and discomfort in all situational domains. The results suggest that independence is a stronger predictor than interdependence of broad and specific measures of social anxiety, possibly due to the overlap between social anxiety symptomatology and the independence items on the Self-Construal Scale (SCS). The theoretical and clinical implications of the findings and study limitations are discussed.
   
Student’s name Justine Barnett
University University of New South Wales
Supervisor A/Prof Jessica Grisham &  Dr Bronwyn Graham
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Gonadal hormone levels and the regulation of negative emotion in women: Evidence for an interaction between serum estradiol and rumination 
Thesis abstract Gonadal hormone fluctuations often coincide with emotion dysregulation and depression in women. However, their impact on the regulation of sad mood at a state level is unknown. We examined the effects of serum estradiol and progesterone on the spontaneous use of emotion regulatory strategies and on negative affect following a negative mood induction. Non-clinical female participants (N= 61) viewed a sad film clip and then completed self-report measures of strategy use. They also rated their mood at baseline, post-film, and after a recovery period. Hormonal levels did not predict strategy use nor negative mood. However, they moderated the effects of rumination such that high levels of rumination was associated with greater negative affect immediately post-film in women with low estradiol. These findings suggest that adaptive emotion regulation may depend on hormonal status, rather than on strategy use alone. Findings also underscore the importance of rumination as a potential target in the prevention and treatment of hormonally-related depression in women.
   
Student’s name Frances Clare Dunn
University University of Newcastle
Supervisor Dr Martin Johnston
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Social support following miscarriage: Impact on outcomes of grief and growth               
Thesis abstract Grief and growth are potential psychological sequelae of miscarriage but little is known about predictors of, or temporal changes in, these outcomes. This study aims to examine the impact of social support, partner support and marital satisfaction after miscarriage on the outcomes of grief and growth among women and men following unplanned pregnancy loss. Because social support is thought to facilitate the resolution of distress after trauma and to be associated with psychological growth we hypothesised that the use of support after miscarriage would be associated with improved outcomes in relation to grief and growth. This study investigated predictors of grief and growth among 496 participants (248 couples) following miscarriage. Participants completed the following measures: the Significant Others Scale (SOS), Coping Response Inventory (CRI), Index of  Marital Satisfaction (IMS), Perinatal Grief Scale (PGS) and Stress-Related Growth Scale (SRGS).  Measures were taken at one and four months after miscarriage. The study employed a correlational design; data were entered utilising stepwise regression analysis. Grief and growth were taken as dependent variables in separate analyses. Sociodemographic characteristics and measures of support, marital satisfaction and coping were taken as predictor variables. Favourable grief outcomes were associated with support satisfaction one month after miscarriage, marital  satisfaction and coping style (with more use of behavioural avoidance and less use of cognitive approach strategies predicting lower PGS scores). Growth was predicted by marital satisfaction.  In unexpected findings a negative association was identified between support satisfaction and growth and no association was identified between coping style and growth. These findings highlight the importance of social support and the quality of the marital relationship to individuals after miscarriage. Assessment by health professionals of salient aspects of support among individuals who have experienced miscarriage may lead to identification of those individuals who lack appropriate support resources and thus to interventions to enhance support which in turn could contribute to optimal psychological outcomes after miscarriage.
   
Student’s name Dr. Danika N. Hiew
University University of Queensland
Supervisor Prof Kim Halford
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)/PhD
Thesis title Loving Diversity: Examining Successful Intercultural Couple Relationships    
Thesis abstract This thesis describes a program of research investigating the differences between Chinese and Western couple relationship standards and communication, how intercultural Chinese-Western couples manage the differences, and the association of relationship satisfaction with relationship standards and communication. Six studies were conducted. In Studies 1 to 4, the first measure of Chinese and Western couple relationship standards was developed and found to be psychometrically robust and equivalent across cultures and genders. Family Responsibility standards were endorsed more strongly by Chinese individuals than Western individuals and more strongly by males than females, whereas Couple Bond standards were endorsed more strongly by females than males but received similar strong endorsement by Chinese and Western individuals. Study 5 demonstrated that Chinese couples endorsed Family Responsibility standards more strongly and Couple Bond standards less strongly than Western couples, with intercultural couples endorsing these standards to an extent that was intermediate between the Chinese and Western couples. All cultural combinations of partners shared greater similarity on Family Responsibility standards than would be expected by chance, intercultural partners were as similar as intracultural partners, and holding similar standards was associated with satisfaction in relationships with a Chinese male. Study 6 was the first direct comparison of the communication of Chinese, Western, and intercultural Chinese-Western couples during positive reminiscence and problem discussions. This study revealed that Chinese couples engaged in higher rates of negative and lower rates of positive communication as defined by Western coding systems. Intercultural partners’ rates of communication behaviour were intermediate between those of Chinese and Western couples. Few behaviours assessed by Western coding systems were associated with Chinese and intercultural couples’ satisfaction. This program of research revealed that intercultural partners do not adhere to the relationship standards and communication behaviour of their cultures of origin, instead adopting an approach in between those of their cultures of origin. The importance of culturally appropriate measurement was highlighted by the most significant results emerging from a new scale that assessed traditional Chinese relationship standards not previously assessed in Western research, and few associations between communication coded by a Western system and Chinese and intercultural couples’ satisfaction. Contradiction of some popular contentions about Chinese-Western differences and support of others demonstrated the importance of rigorous empirical testing.
   
Student’s name Theresa Heim
University University of South Australia
Supervisor Dr Susan Simpson
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Early Maladaptive Schemas and Coping Styles as Vulnerability Factors for Perceiving Stress in Psychology Students            
Thesis abstract The aim of this study was to assess the stress level and prevalence of Early Maladaptive Schemas and dysfunctional coping in psychology students. The study also investigated whether dysfunctional coping styles would mediate the relationship between specific schemas and perceived stress. Archival data from a cross-sectional web-based survey completed by 212 first-year psychology students from two Australian universities were used to address the research questions. The majority of the students rated themselves as either somewhat stressed or stressed. Self-Sacrifice and Unrelenting Standards were the most prevalent schemas in this sample and were used as independent variables in the mediation analyses. The findings suggest that the Self-Sacrifice schema exerts indirect influence on stress perception through the Surrender coping style and the Unrelenting Standards schema exerts direct influence on stress perception as well as indirect influence through the coping styles of Avoidance and Surrender. A heightened awareness of these vulnerability factors for perceiving stress in psychology students could be beneficial for addressing stress-related difficulties in this population.
   
Student’s name Christopher Sam Fountain
University University of Southern Queensland
Supervisor Dr Charlotte Brownlow
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clincal)
Thesis title The Construction of the Autistic Self: A Critical Discursive Approach             
Thesis abstract This study examined the construction and management of an autistic identity through the use of internet methodologies (synchronous, text-based web-forums). Three different stakeholder populations were accessed – autistic individuals, parents of autistic individuals and professionals who work with autistic individuals. Drawing on critical discursive psychology, it was found that participants negotiated an overarching, dominant discourse of subscription to a difference or deviance framework through drawing on two identified interpretative repertoires – ‘How is ASD diagnosed and what impact does that have?’ and ‘Are you with me or against me?’ In crafting an autistic identity, tensions were observed between and within participant groups regarding ASD being viewed as a celebrated difference or a deviance in need of intervention. In terms of relevance to clinical practice, these identified tensions were further explored through the lens of humanistic psychology; highlighting the necessity for a comprehensive diagnostic process to be adhered to.
   
Student’s name Dr. Michael Gascoigne
University University of Sydney
Supervisor Dr. Suncica Lah
Degree completed Doctor of Clinical Psychology and PhD
Thesis title Long-Term Memory in Children with Epilepsy 
Thesis abstract Memory difficulties represent a common clinical complaint in patients with epilepsy, yet these complaints are often unrelated to learning and short-term recall performance on standardised memory tests. It has been proposed that reported memory difficulties may refer to deficits in the recall of newly-learned material following long delays despite normal recall after short delays (accelerated long-term forgetting; ALF) or autobiographical memory deficits, related to the recall of personal facts (semantic memory) or the re-experiencing of personal events (episodic memory). To date, studies of ALF and autobiographical memory have largely focussed on adults, with relatively little attention given to children. This represents a notable gap, as the underlying substrates of neurological problems can differ between the mature and developing brain. These two memory deficits have also been largely studied in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) and often attributed to disruption of the mesial temporal lobe function or the presence of hippocampal lesions. As long-term memory formation is thought to demand an interaction between medial temporal and neocortical networks, it is possible that memory consolidation could be disrupted by seizures themselves. Thus, long-term memory deficits could feasibly be found in epilepsy patients who have no detectable cortical pathology, such as those with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE). This thesis includes studies which assess ALF and autobiographical memory in children with TLE and in those with IGE. A general introduction to memory deficits in patients with epilepsy is presented in Chapter 1, while Chapter 2 examines literature related to the phenomenon of ALF and memory consolidation theory. In Chapter 3, the existence of ALF is assessed in 23 children with TLE and 58 healthy control participants of comparable age, sex, and parental socioeconomic status. All participants completed a battery of neuropsychological tests, which included a measure of verbal learning and recall after short (30-min) and long (7-day) delays. Compared to the control group, the TLE group recalled significantly fewer words at the 7-day delay compared with the 30-min delay. Age was also negatively correlated with the recall of words after short- and long-term delays within the TLE group, where older age was associated with worse memory. Using a similar methodology, Chapter 4 examines ALF in 20 children with IGE and 41 similarly-matched controls. Children with IGE recalled significantly fewer words after a 7-day, but not 30-min delay relative to the control participants. Moreover, greater epilepsy severity was associated with poorer 7-day verbal recognition. Chapter 5 introduces the concept of autobiographical memory deficits and the theories that attempt to account for them, namely Classic Consolidation Theory and Multiple Trace Theory. In Chapter 6, the Children’s Autobiographical Interview was used to assess autobiographical memory performance in 21 children with TLE and 24 healthy controls. Children with TLE were found to recall fewer episodic details than controls (but only when no retrieval prompts were provided), while no between-group difference was found for the recall of semantic autobiographical details. Unlike controls, the number of episodic details recalled did not increase significantly with age among patients with TLE and was also found to be unrelated to a range of epilepsy factors, including epilepsy severity, side of seizure focus or the presence of structural hippocampal abnormalities. In Chapter 7, an identical methodology is used to assess autobiographical memory deficits in 18 children with IGE and 42 controls. Children with IGE recalled significantly fewer episodic details than controls, irrespective of whether retrieval support was provided. Earlier age of seizure onset and higher proportion of life spent with epilepsy were both associated with the recall of fewer episodic details. In summary, first, findings of our studies revealed deficits in long-term memory in children with TLE, but also in children with IGE. The detection of memory deficits in children with IGE suggests that long-term memory consolidation may not only be disrupted by temporal lobe pathology or seizure focus, but also by generalised seizures, which could contribute to ALF and deficits in autobiographical recall. Second, our findings suggest that long-term memory deficits may gradually emerge in children with TLE, where older children are more likely to present with deficits in recalling past events and newly-learned information.
   
Student’s name Julie Pellas
University University of the Sunshine Coast
Supervisor Professor Mary Katsikitis
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Knowing You Knowing Me (KYKM)–A Pilot.  Targeting Communication Skills to Strengthen Relationships Between Mothers and Young Adolescent Girls 
Thesis abstract This study piloted a 3-week communication intervention for mothers and their young adolescent daughters (11-15 years old) – called Knowing You Knowing Me (KYKM).  It was hypothesised that improving relationship and communication skills through KYKM could reduce stress in mothers, and increase their feelings of parental competence.  A 2 x 2 mixed factorial design was used with participants randomly allocated to experimental and waitlist-control groups.  The dependent variables were stress (Parent Stress Index- Short Form), parent-child communication (Parent-Adolescent Communication scale) and parental sense of competence (Parental Sense of Competence scale).  10 experimental and 9 waitlist mother -daughter dyads completed the baseline measures (T1), but only 2 mothers and 1 daughter from the experimental group provided post intervention data (T2).  Data was not able to be inferentially tested.  Data received from the 2 dyads that completed the intervention was inconsistent and similarly unable to provide clear evidence regarding the efficacy of the intervention.  Difficulty recruiting mothers, and the high attrition rate were impediments to the study.  Mothers reported a lack of time for the program, and technical difficulties with KYKM also created challenges.  More targeted marketing of KYKM is required to improve recruitment, and to motivate mothers to make time to complete the intervention, as an investment in their future relationship with their daughter.
   
Student’s name Megan Haire
University University of Western Sydney
Supervisor Robert Brockman
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Thesis title Testing a schema mode model of pathological worry and GAD      
Thesis abstract Young’s schema mode therapy (ST) has been shown to be useful in treating personality disorders. Currently, ST formulations are being developed to explain and treat Axis I disorders. This study proposes one such formulation for generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) that draws on the notion of pathological worry as a form of cognitive avoidance, theorised by Borkovec. We propose that pathological worry, the key criteria of GAD, is a form of maladaptive coping that qualifies as a ‘coping mode’ in the schema mode model. Aim: To test the hypothesis that pathological worry is an avoidance coping mode, ‘analysing-worrier’, consistent with Young’s schema mode model. Method: 109 adults (predominantly Australians) completed an online survey to investigate whether four schema modes and experiential avoidance are associated with each other and with pathological worry, and whether experiential avoidance mediated the relationship between the four schema modes and worry. Results: Correlation and multiple regression analyses supported all hypothesised relationships and showed that experiential avoidance fully mediated the relationships between the modes and pathological worry. Conclusions: These findings suggest that pathological worry may function as a maladaptive avoidance coping mode (‘analysing-worrier’), and it follows that this mode could be amenable to treatment with the emotive and relational techniques found in ST. This study adds to a small body of literature on schema processes in GAD and suggests that further exploration of the model and application of ST to GAD may contribute to improving treatment outcomes for this debilitating condition.
   
Student’s name Fiona Ronk
University University of Western Australia
Supervisor Winthrop Professor Andrew Page
Degree completed Master of Psychology (Clinical)/PhD
Thesis title Can we trust clinical significance when evaluating clinical outcomes? An investigation of the reliability, validity, flexibility, and stability of clinical significance methodology.    
Thesis abstract Measuring patient change during mental health treatment is vital in both evaluating the effectiveness of treatment programs and in guiding clinical decisions about a patient’s future care. Clinical significance methodology (Jacobson, Follette, & Revenstorf, 1984) provides a way of quantitatively conceptualising changes patients make between two time periods, usually pre-treatment and post-treatment. This method takes into consideration both (a) whether a patient has made a change that is considered statistically reliable, and (b) whether a patient resembles a member of the functional, healthy population, or the dysfunctional, treatment-seeking population (Jacobson & Truax, 1991). The potential benefits of using the methodology are becoming more well-known and reports of the clinical significance of research findings are being increasingly recommended by psychology journals. However, can we trust its conclusions and interpretations? Several assumptions have been made regarding the use of clinical significance methodology, many of which have been largely untested, and clear recommendations for its use are lacking. Therefore, further exploration is required before clinical significance methodology can be confidently relied upon to yield accurate evaluations of treatment outcome that lead to valid interpretations. This thesis aims to contribute to the field of mental health outcome evaluation by describing and exploring assumptions made regarding clinical significance methodology and making recommendations for its future use. Five studies were conducted using data from inpatient samples. Firstly, it was found that clinical significance classification rates are largely consistent when different methods are used to calculate them. Secondly, classifications of recovered demonstrate ecological validity. That is, patients who are considered recovered have scores on other variables that align with the concept of recovery. Thirdly, patients find change that places them into the ‘functional’ range of a measure to be more meaningful than change that is large in magnitude. Next, it was demonstrated that clinical significance methodology can be flexed to take into account different types of patient change, and a new category of recovering was proposed. Finally, it was demonstrated that recovery should be considered to be neither solely a process nor solely an outcome, but rather a dynamic process that is different for each individual. The findings of this thesis support the continued use of clinical significance methodology, and recommendations are made for future use and reporting of clinical significance findings. Given the small but significant proportion of patients who make no change or deteriorate during treatment, it is deemed necessary for future research to firstly determine the validity of these undesirable outcomes and then examine factors associated with these, with the ultimate goal of improving treatment outcomes for patients.
   
Student’s name Rachel Clare Bailey
University University of Wollongong
Supervisor Prof Brin Grenyer
Degree completed Doctor of Philosophy (Clinical)
Thesis title Caring for a person with personality disorder: A study of carer burden, support needs and interventions   
Thesis abstract Personality disorders involve pervasive disturbances in self and interpersonal functioning as core criteria (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). As a consequence, the families and carers of people with a personality disorder can be challenged by the relationship. This work presents a sequential set of four studies aiming to advance our understanding of caregiving for a person with personality disorder. Study one was a systematic review of 6 studies meeting inclusion criteria with data on 465 carers of persons with borderline personality disorder. Study two evaluated new data on the experience of burden involving 287 carers. Taken together, the two studies showed that carers report significant levels of burden and grief compared to carers of persons with other mental disorders, and experience difficulties in wellbeing including symptoms consistent with depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress. Study three explored the interpersonal environment reported by 280 carers. Findings revealed family environments characterised by elevated 'expressed emotion', representing a challenged interpersonal dynamic involving both conflict and emotional closeness. Study four evaluated a five session pilot intervention focused on modifying and enhancing the interpersonal environment with 32 carers of persons with personality disorder. Carers reported significant improvements in wellbeing, burden, quality of life and expressed emotion post-intervention. The four studies, taken together, demonstrate the interpersonal nature of personality disorder; both in terms of the interpersonal impact but also the opportunity to modify interpersonal patterns within the caregiving relationship to reduce burden and enhance carer wellbeing.