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Staff Profile


Career Summary


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle, 10/12/2012
  • Bachelor of Social Science (Honours), University of Newcastle, 13/01/2008


Research keywords

  • identity
  • mental health
  • new religious movements
  • service development
  • service evaluation
  • youth mental health

Research expertise

Dr Dominiek Coates has research experience in the area of new religious movements and 'cults', identity construction, mental health, child abuse and trauma, and retirement living.

She is a Conjoint Lecturer at the University of Newcastle, and also works as a researcher for Central Coast Local Health District, Mental Health. Current research interests include young people’s mental health, the impact of child abuse and trauma, staff burnout, mental health service design, development and evaluation.

In 2012, Dr Dominiek Coates completed a PhD thesis into the experiences of former members of new religious movements. This thesis is an investigation of the life history narratives of 23 former members of 11 different World-Rejecting New Religious Movements (NRMs) in Australia. The study is a qualitative enquiry consisting of in-depth biographical interviews informed by constructionist grounded theory and the theoretical framework of symbolic interactionism (SI). Questions were aimed at elucidating insights into the way in which participants experienced and negotiated issues of identity and self before, during and since membership. The life history narratives were analysed for an understanding of membership in the context of the participants’ wider life histories and descriptions of self and identity.

The principal findings were that participation in a world-rejecting NRM served a significant identity function for the former members in this study. The findings suggest that for the participants in the study membership was motivated by difficulties negotiating tensions between personal autonomy and social connectedness. In accordance with SI theorising of the self as constructed in the realm of both self and others, it is argued that an ability to reflexively negotiate tensions between personal autonomy and social connectedness is paramount for the contemporary self, and NRM membership is conceptualised as motivated by, and a potential solution to, difficulties balancing these tensions.

Between 2008 and 2012 Dr Dominiek Coates worked in the capacity of Research and Program Manager/Group Facilitator for Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA). In this capacity, she developed a number of psycho-educational workshops for adult survivors of childhood abuse pertaining to the impacts of stress and trauma on child developing and related mental health impacts. These workshops provide survivors and those supporting them with a safe space in which to learn about the impacts of childhood trauma, and possibilities for the process of recovery. They discuss ways in which trauma in childhood can impact current or past behaviours, feelings and/or physical and psychological health. They also build on existing strengths to foster a sense of hope and optimism about the recovery process. These workshops explore issues such as attachment, self-care and support building. They highlight the coping strategies children adopt to survive, and relate these to methods of coping in adulthood. They also provide tools for positive change. These workshops have been delivered to survivors throughout Australia, and have been a great success.

Between 2006 and 2008 she worked as a Research Associate on large ARC funded research project into retirement village living at The University of New South Wales, School of Organisation and Management. This project investigated the relationships between key economic, built environment, social, psychological and health factors that impact on the provision of retirement accommodation.

She received the School of Humanities and Social Science publication prize for 2009 for an article published in the Journal of Religion and Health and the 2012 Humanities and Social Science RHD Publication Award for an article published in Deviant Behavior.

Fields of Research

111799Public Health And Health Services Not Elsewhere Classified50
160807Sociological Methodology And Research Methods25
160899Sociology Not Elsewhere Classified25



2014Quality & Innovation Awards 2014
Central Coast Local Health District. Caring for the Coast (Australia)
The Keep Them Safe - Whole Family Team
2014ACHS Quality Improvement Awards 2014
ACHS (Australia)
Winner project, "The Keep Them Safe Whole Family Team Gosford Pilot Project"


Balancing personal autonomy and social connectedness: the role of New Religious Movements or 'Cult' membership from the perspectives of former members
PACFA, CAPA and AARC Conference - Complexity and Connectedness in Life and Love: Working with Trauma, Mental Health and Identity, Australia (Invited Presenter)


Teaching expertise

Dr Dominiek Coates has significant teaching experience in research methodologies, sociology of mental health, public health and introductory social sciences courses.

She takes a student-centred approach to learning and encourages students to regard her as a facilitator of their learning rather than a repository of knowledge. As a qualified and experienced counsellor she has a keen eye for identifying, and breaking down, possible barriers that prevent learning.



For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Click on a category title below to expand the list of citations for that specific category.

Chapter (2 outputs)

2013Coates D, 'Tensions Between Self and "Others" in the Making of the Self: The Role of Childhood Experiences in the Development of Reflexivity', Social Theories of History and Histories of Social Theory, Emerald, London 277-295 (2013) [B1]
2013Coates DD, 'New religious movements as avenues for self-change and the development of increased emotional connectedness', 40th Anniversary of Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Emerald, Bingley 271-305 (2013) [B1]

Journal article (19 outputs)

2014Howe D, Coates D, Batchelor S, 'Headspace Gosford data: The local application of a National model', Australasian Psychiatry, 22 374-377 (2014) [C1]
2014Howe D, Batchelor S, Coates D, Cashman E, 'Nine key principles to guide youth mental health: development of service models in New South Wales', EARLY INTERVENTION IN PSYCHIATRY, 8 190-197 (2014) [C1]
2014Coates DD, 'New Religious Movement Membership and the Importance of Stable 'Others' for the Making of Selves', JOURNAL OF RELIGION & HEALTH, 53 1300-1316 (2014) [C1]
2014Coates D, Howe D, 'The importance and benefits of youth participation in mental health settings from the perspective of the headspace Gosford Youth Alliance in Australia', Children and Youth Services Review, 46 294-299 (2014) [C1]
2014Coates DD, Howe D, 'The Design and Development of Staff Wellbeing Initiatives: Staff Stressors, Burnout and Emotional Exhaustion at Children and Young People's Mental Health in Australia.', Adm Policy Ment Health, (2014)
2013Coates D, 'The Effect of New Religious Movement Affiliation and Disaffiliation on Reflexivity and Sense of Self', JOURNAL FOR THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF RELIGION, 52 793-809 (2013) [C1]
2013Coates DD, 'Disaffiliation from a New Religious Movement: The Importance of Self and¿Others in Exit', Symbolic Interaction, 36 314-334 (2013) [C1]
2013Coates D, 'Balancing Personal Autonomy and Social Connectedness: the Role of New Religious Movements or 'Cult' Membership from the Perspective of Former Members', Psychotherapy in Australia, 19 56-64 (2013) [C1]
2013Coates DD, 'A symbolic interactionist understanding of the selves of former members of New Religious Movements', Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 16 1066-1079 (2013) [C1]
2012Coates D, ''Cult commitment' from the perspective of former members: Direct rewards of membership versus dependency inducing practices', Deviant Behavior, 33 168-184 (2012) [C1]
2012Coates D, 'The significance and purpose of the 'anti-cult movement' in facilitating disaffiliation from a new religious movement: Resources for self-construction or a justificatory account', International Journal for the Study of New Religions, 3 213-244 (2012) [C1]
2012Coates D, ''I'm now far healthier and better able to manage the challenges of life': The mediating role of new religious movement membership and exit', Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health, 14 181-208 (2012) [C1]
2011Coates D, 'Counselling former members of charismatic groups: Considering pre-involvement variables, reasons for joining the group and corresponding values', Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 14 191-207 (2011) [C1]
2010Coates D, 'Working with Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse: a Review of Existing Treatment Models', Psychotherapy in Australia, 17 12-21 (2010) [C1]
2010Coates D, 'Post-involvement difficulties experienced by former members of charismatic groups', Journal of Religion and Health, 49 296-310 (2010) [C1]
2010Coates D, 'Impact of childhood abuse: Biopsychosocial pathways through which adult mental health is compromised', Australian Social Work, 63 391-403 (2010) [C1]
2010Coates D, ''Best Practice' Guidelines for working with Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse', Counselling Australia, 10 3-12 (2010)
2009Coates D, 'Former members of charismatic groups: Modalities of adjustment', Psychotherapy in Australia, 16 24-31 (2009) [C1]
2007Kennedy DJ, Coates D, 'Retirement Village Resident Satisfaction in Australia: A Qualitative Enquiry', Journal of Housing for the Elderly, 22 311-334 (2007) [C1]
Show 16 more

Conference (1 outputs)

2007Kennedy D, Coates D, 'Costumer satisfaction in senior living resorts: A qualitative investigation' (2007) [E1]

Grants and Funding

No funding.


Research Supervision

Number of current supervisions0

No Supervisions.


Dr Dominiek Coates

PositionConjoint Lecturer
School of Humanities and Social Science
Faculty of Education and Arts
The University of Newcastle, Australia