A number of APS Interest Groups offer awardsthat encourage and recognise excellence in the relevant area of psychology. The 2013 recipients are profiled below.
Kelly is an Aboriginal woman who lives in a rural area and juggles motherhood with paid and voluntary work, whilst remaining committed to her studies in psychology. Kelly is studying an APAC-accredited psychology course and has been invited to complete Honours at the University of New England, NSW. Kelly plans to attend the 2014 APS Annual Conference and commented that the most important reason for attending the Conference is to gain inspiration to sustain her pursuit of a career in psychology.
Thesis title – Supporting parents after paediatric acquired brain injury: Evaluation of Stepping Stones Triple P combined with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Felicity conducted a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the use of an evidence-based behavioural family intervention, Group Stepping Stones Triple P, with an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) workshop for parents of children with acquired brain injury (ABI). Treatment families showed significant improvements relative to the wait-list families for: child behavioural and emotional problems; parenting styles; and parent confidence in managing behaviours. The results indicated that a combination of parent skills training and ACT may be an effective intervention to improve child and parenting outcomes following paediatric ABI.
Thesis title – An experimental investigation of the job demand control model
Emma conducted research using a counter-balanced within-subjects design in a simulation of an office environment with a sample of 60 women. She focused on an important limitation in measurement by examining both subjective and objective indicators of stress and autonomy, and demands. Her study, the first to use physiological indices of alpha amylase, heart rate and heart rate variability to measure stress as defined by the job demand control model, was described as novel and an important contribution to the field of occupational health psychology.
Thesis title – Evaluation of psychodynamic group therapy for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) using the Rorschach Inkblot Method (RIM)
Daniel’s thesis proposed that psychodynamic child group therapy could serve as an effective means of addressing the significant problematic personality functioning of children with ADHD, acting as an adjunct to more conventional treatments. On the basis of psychometric soundness, methodological strengths and demonstrated effectiveness as a pre- and post-treatment measure of personality functioning, the RIM was proposed as an effective means of assessing changes in personality functioning arising as a result of long-term psychodynamic group therapy with these children.
Monique O’Neill, Eastern Hills Senior High School
Artwork title – I cried because I had no shoes
The award judges commented that the artwork conveys a key message about the acceptance of self and others, and encourages us to increase our deep empathy to self and others, including those with mental illness. Judges also commented on the high quality of the painting and the overall originality of the art work in expressing the theme of ‘peace’. The artist stated that in the world around us today mentally ill or disabled individuals are misconstrued and judged by their stigma rather than their personality.
This is an engaging verse story, in which a young boy asks the ghost haunting the town why she is so unhappy and agrees to be her friend when she says she is lonely. Once they are friends she no longer haunts but joins in the town activities. The illustrations enhance and enrich the tale. The judges stated that this book strongly met both the literary merit and demonstration of peaceful resolution of interpersonal conflict criteria for this award.
My Life as an Alphabet is a humorous story about a girl who is a bit different from the rest handling conflict between adults and schoolmates. She works constructively and imaginatively to promote resolution of conflicts on a number of levels – at home, in the wider family, with friends and between other students at school. Other characters also promote acceptance of diversity and friendship. The judges stated this book soundly met the criteria of literary merit and peaceful resolution of conflict.
Thesis title – The role of rumination in the relationship between mindfulness and forgiveness: A trait and state-level investigation
Alissa’s research investigated variables that may be associated with increased forgiveness. Mindfulness was theorised to foster forgiveness for a specific interpersonal transgression, and rumination was anticipated to mediate that relationship. Forgiving interpersonal transgressions enables resolution of conflict, and fosters restoration of interpersonal relationships where appropriate, and reduction of aggression. A brief breath-focused mindfulness intervention increased the benevolence aspect of forgiveness for a specific transgression, but not decisional or emotional forgiveness, compared to a guided-imagery control.
Thesis title – Age differences in emotion regulation in anxiety and depression: A multimodal investigation
Dusanka investigated spontaneous emotion regulation in both healthy and clinically older (60 years plus) and younger adults (18-25 years). Participants completed several mood inductions (happy, sad and anxious) and rates of emotional and physiological recovery were assessed. Older adults demonstrated an ability to maintain a positive mood for longer than younger adults. Use of reappraisal as a regulation strategy was found to predict faster recovery from negative emotions for older adults. Dusanka presented these findings at the 2013 Annual Congress of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies in Peru.
Thesis title – Distinguishing subtypes in primary progressive aphasia
Sharon’s research introduced the Sydney Language Battery (SYDBAT), which is designed to assist clinicians diagnosing Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA), a group of neurodegenerative conditions where the language system is selectively targeted. All 57 participants completed a comprehensive assessment including neuropsychological testing, magnetic resonance brain imaging and four SYDBAT tasks. The results showed significant differences, with different language profiles emerging for each group. Investigation of the psychometric properties of the SYDBAT revealed good convergent validity, inter-rater reliability and test-retest reliability.
Dr Sofia Robleda Gomez Assoc MAPS
Thesis title – Quality of life and wellbeing in Australian adults aged fifty years and over
Sofia studied a large sample of community dwelling mid-aged and older adults with respect to factors affecting quality of life and psychological wellbeing. Attitudes to ageing, optimism, emotional and instrumental social support, psychological distress, life events, self-rated health, socio-economic status and living arrangements were assessed. Measures included the innovative Schedule for the Evaluation of Individual Quality of Life (SEIQOL). Attitudes towards ageing, optimism, psychological distress and financial resources were found to be important in terms of higher quality of life and wellbeing.
Dana’s research investigated whether weight controllability information reduces weight stigma, and impacts on a person’s own healthy weight management. The experiment randomly allocated 346 participants into one of three conditions. A negative relationship was found between weight stigma and level of exercise and eating self-efficacy. Weight status was negatively related to level of weight stigma, and positively related to exercise and eating self-efficacy. The results suggest that while weight controllability information is not detrimental to self-efficacy levels, it is insufficient to alter weight stigma levels.