Lecturer

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Vanessa Cobham
University of Queensland, Australia

Education

Bachelor of Arts

University of Queensland (1989-1991)

First Class Honours in Psychology

University of Queensland (1992)

Clinical PhD in Psychology

University of Queensland (1993 - 1997)

Current Appointments

July 2017 –  Disaster Recovery Consultant / Director, Whitsundays Region, QLD Health – 20%

Duties: Provide leadership, training and supervision in relation to the Child and Youth Mental Health Disaster Response following Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

January 2016 – Principal Research Fellow, Mater Research Institute (MRI)
Duties: Provide research leadership within the Mater Young Adult Health Centre Brisbane.
July 2006 – present Teaching and Research Academic (Associate Professor – Level D) School of Psychology, University of Queensland – 80% (currently 50%)

Duties: 

Teaching

  • PSYC7211 Clinical Skills (Course coordinator and lecturer)
  • PSYC1030 – (lecturer)

Research Supervision

  • Honours, Masters, DCP and PhD level research projects

Research

  • Applying for research grants,
  • Administering research grants;
  • Conducting clinical research.

Service

  • Member of the School’s Research and Higher Degree Committee
  • Review manuscripts for A and A* journals; research theses from other universities; and grant applications through the NHMRC.
July 2000 – present Advanced Clinical Psychologist, Children’s Health Queensland Child & Youth Mental Health Service – previously Mater Child and Youth Mental Health Service – 40%
Duties:

Direct Clinical Psychology assessments, treatments, and interventions for young people with severe mental health needs in different settings within the Service as required.

Supervision

Clinical supervision of more junior colleagues (HP 3 and 4).

Training, Research, Administration, Quality Assurance

Contributions to service developments and planning in conjunction with multidisciplinary team colleagues, including teaching and training in agreed areas of need. Adopting a leadership role within the Service in the planned implementation and evaluation of a transdiagnostic intervention for adolescents with comorbid anxiety and depressive disorders – two of the most common diagnostic presentations within CYMHS.

Employment History
April 2013 – April 2014 Director of the beyondblue Tasmanian Child and Adolescent Bushfire Response (secondment)
August 2011 – July 2013 Deputy Chair of the Mater Statewide CYMHS Recovery and Resilience Team (secondment)  Queensland Health
Jan 2012 – Jan 2016 Principal Research Fellow on the Queensland Flood Study (QF2011) Mater Research Institute.
July 2002 –July 2006 Joint Appointment between Mater CYMHS (80%) and School of Psychology, University of Queensland (20%)
Day Program
Mater Child & Youth Mental Health Service, Brisbane
July 2000 – July 2002 Clinical Psychologist (Advanced Level Clinician)
Day Program
Mater Child & Youth Mental Health Service, Brisbane
Sept 1999-April 2000  Clinical Child Psychologist
Havant Child and Family Therapy
Portsmouth HealthCare Trust, England
Professional Associations & Affiliations

Full registration as a psychologist in QLD

Member of the Australian Association for Cognitive & Behaviour Therapy

Member of the Australasian Association for Traumatic Stress Studies

Member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS)

Member of the APS’ Clinical College

Member of the APS’ National Committee on Disaster Recovery and Resilience

Member of the NHMRC Translational Research Faculty

Member of the Mater Research Institute – UQ  

Member of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth

AWARDS:

2010    Recipient of a University of Queensland ‘Promoting Women’ Fellowship.

2009    Recipient of the Social and Behavioural Sciences Faculty (UQ) Award for Innovation Excellence in Research.

2008    Recipient of the Social and Behavioural Sciences Faculty (UQ) Award for Teaching Excellence.

PRE-CONGRESS WORKSHOP:

How accurate is that trauma narrative? Working with children experiencing PTSD following community-level trauma exposure.

This workshop will describe a child and adolescent-oriented cognitive behavioural treatment approach with a trauma focus. Although the principles described are applicable to the treatment of post-traumatic stress resulting from both single incident (Type 1) and repeated (Type 2) trauma exposures, the focus in this workshop will be on the application to Type 1 trauma presentations in youth (specifically community-level trauma such as disasters) that result in the development of PTSD.

The workshop will cover the following broad topics:

  • The evidence base for trauma-focussed CBT (TF-CBT) with this population;
  • The theoretical model underpinning the approach described;
  • Key treatment strategies (e.g., cognitive restructuring, affect regulation, in vivo exposure), with an emphasis on imaginal exposure;
  • The role of parents in treatment;
  • Common clinician concerns in relation to imaginal exposure; and
  • Practical and process issues involved in running TF-CBT sessions with children and adolescents.

The workshop will be a mixture of didactic content and interactive activities, with demonstrations and role plays used to demonstrate key strategies.

The workshop is suitable for clinicians with little experience in trauma-focussed work with children and adolescents, as well as more experienced clinicians.

KEYNOTE

Youth posttraumatic mental health in the context of humanitarian crises: The role of parents.

Natural disasters, war exposure and forced displacement constitute humanitarian crises that represent potentially traumatic events in the lives of children around the world. Using a risk and resilience framework, the role of parents/caregivers in relation to children’s mental health outcomes will be reviewed. The scant empirical research relating to parenting interventions in these contexts will also be reviewed.  

Across the three humanitarian crisis contexts, common risk factors for adverse child outcomes include: exposure to trauma for children and parents, parental mental health, changes in parenting behaviours, hardships and financial stress, domestic and community violence and a lack of accessible services. Equally important, common protective factors include: stable supportive parental relationships, strong family connectedness, and sustainable resources available to support families.

The importance of parents – in terms of both risk and resilience – is clear. Few culturally appropriate and sustainable parenting interventions exist, with even less published research evaluating these interventions. Strengthening families is an empirically supported means of buffering or protecting children from exposure to disaster, conflict and forced displacement; and must be the focus of future endeavours.