Conjoint Associate Professor Michael Tarren-Sweeney

Conjoint Associate Professor

School of Medicine and Public Health

Career Summary

Biography

Research Expertise
Overview The inner world and subjective distress of children who have been harmed and emotionally deprived is mysterious and largely unknown. My journey towards understanding the minds of such children, as well as the causes of their psychic impairment, began in 1989, when I started to work as a child and family psychologist in child protection and alternate care. Aside from realising that working with such children was a great privilege, I was struck by the absence of empirical knowledge about their mental health and well-being of the lack of conceptual frameworks, of various phenomenological mysteries, and a reliance on non-standardised and subjective measurement tools. Few people in the world had researched these issues for maltreated children, and even fewer had looked in any detail at the problems of children in care. Over time I resolved to devote my lifes work to pursuing such research questions, and to develop more specific measurement tools, in the hope that this might lead to better prevention, identification and treatment of the psychological problems manifested by such children. I was also motivated by a strong intellectual curiosity. With this in mind I completed graduate training in psychiatric epidemiology, established a Psychologists Research group in the NSW Department of Community Services, and embarked on the Children in Care study. Both the Children in Care study and the development of the Assessment Checklist for Children (see descriptions below) represent groundbreaking research in this specialised field. The findings from these studies are contributing to re-conceptualisation of the development and psychiatric problems of children in care. For example, patterns of aberrant eating behaviour have been identified for the first time in this population, leading to the proposal of a syndrome (termed Food Maintenance Syndrome). Some of the findings and theoretical formulations that have come from this research are published or submitted for publication (see publication list), while further research questions are to be addressed in a follow-up study (commencing later this year). With over half of the several hundred thousand children residing in long-term alternate care in the developed world estimated to have some form of psychiatric disturbance, my research program has major public health significance. Research interests * Developmental psychopathology, with special interest in the epidemiology, phenomenology and determinants of psychopathology among maltreated children, and children in alternate care * Social policy for high-risk children (especially regarding primary prevention of psychopathology) * Measurement and screening of mental health problems and attachment difficulties among children in care * Attachment disorders, and the spectrum of attachment difficulties * Significance of loss and disrupted attachments among maltreated children entering care * Mental health of inter-country adoptees * Mental health of indigenous children * The mental health and wellbeing of children in rural and remote communities * Teaching health equity * Remote problem-based learning Research skills / experience * Large-scale epidemiological research * Test development, psychometrics, mental health screening * Phenomenological investigations and enquiry * Qualitative methods * Data analysis (STATA) and database management * Meta-analysis and clinical reviews

Teaching Expertise
University of Canterbury 2006 - Engaged to teach in the Master of Education (Child and Family Psychology) and Post-Grad Diploma in Child and Family Psychology. Lecturing in the practicum and internship years. Practicum Year: Professional Development in C+F Psychology C+F Psychology Practicum Internship Year: Advanced Academic Development Advanced Professional Practice Structuring and Examining Professional Practice 2006 - 2007 Supervision of 5 Masters research theses and dissertations University of Newcastle 1996 - 2005 MEDI6190 Psychiatric Epidemiology Postgraduate 1 semester course. Initially internal, later distance learning Elective for postgraduate programs in Population Health (Clinical epidemiology, Health Social Science, etc), Drug and Alcohol Studies, Nursing and Psychology. 2004 - 2005 MEDI6290 Psychological Solutions Postgraduate, 1 semester course by distance learning. Elective for postgraduate programs in Population Health (Clinical epidemiology, Health Social Science, etc), Drug and Alcohol Studies, Nursing and Psychology 2003 - 2006 MEDI3014 Health Equity Selective Year 3, Bachelor of Medicine. Offered four times a year. Innovative approach to medical education, replacing the traditional clinical health elective. Students focus on social disadvantage, access to care, and health inequity. Consists of a common week of teaching and an eight-week health equity field placement in one of eight streams: Aged and Community Care; Indigenous health (mostly in remote Aboriginal communities); Global Health (in developing countries); Rural Health (with rural physicians); Mental Health; Child Health; Prison Health; and Drug and Alcohol health. 2001 - 2006 Coordination and delivery of all Psychiatry training in Year 3 of the medical degree 2001 - 2005 Supervision of mental health clinical reviews by Year 3 medical students (NUGGETS) 2005 Problem-Based Learning Tutor for Year 2 medical students

Administrative Expertise
University of Newcastle 2004 - 2005 Member of the Medical School Executive 2003 - 2006 Director of Health Equity training, responsible for academic supervision of six academic stream coordinators within the Health Equity Selective 2003 - 2006 Member of the Bachelor of Medicine Program Committee University of Canterbury 2006 - present Acting Programme Director, Postgraduate Child and Family Psychology programme 2007 - present Coordinator of Postgraduate Studies, School of Educational Studies and Human Development 2006 - present Chair of the Postgraduate Examination Committee, School of Educational Studies and Human Development 2006 - present Privacy officer, School of Educational Studies and Human Development 2007 - present Standing Faculty representative on the Academic Appeals Committee Course co-ordination University of Newcastle 1996 - 2006 MEDI6190 Psychiatric Epidemiology (Postgraduate) 2004 - 2006 MEDI6290 Psychological Solutions (Postgraduate) 2003 - 2006 MEDI3014 Health Equity Selective (Year 3, Bachelor of Medicine) 2001 - 2006 Coordination and delivery of all Psychiatry training in Year 3 of the medical degree University of Canterbury 2006 - present EDUC623 Professional development in Child and Family Psychology (Practicum year) EDUC624 Child and Family Psychology practicum (Practicum year) EDUC501 Advanced academic development (Internship year) EDUC502 Advanced professional practice in Child and Family Psychology (Internship year) EDUC503 Structuring and examining professional practice (Internship year) 2007 EDUC616 Applied Developmental and Paediatric Psychology (Foundation year - co-coordinator) Research management 1997 - ongoing Chief investigator of the Children in Care Study. (Recruited and supervised three research staff) 1999 - 2000 Project manager of the Disruptive Behaviour Study (Recruited and supervised seven research staff)

Qualifications

  • Graduate Diploma in Epidemiology, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Arts, University of New England
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours)(Psychology), Macquarie University

Keywords

  • Attachment disorders
  • Development of multidisciplinary mental health learning modules
  • Developmental psychopathology
  • Ecological analysis and complex formulations
  • Foster care
  • Health Equity Training in Medicine
  • Kinship care
  • Problem-based learning for trainee Psychologists
  • Professional training in Child and Family Psychology
  • Psychiatric Epidemiology
  • Social care policy

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
111499 Paediatrics and Reproductive Medicine not elsewhere classified 20
169999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified 30
170199 Psychology not elsewhere classified 50

Professional Experience

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/2010 -  Editorial Board - Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Australia
1/05/2009 - 1/05/2010 Visiting Research Fellow University of Bristol
Policy Studies
United Kingdom
1/04/2009 - 1/12/2009 British Academy Visiting Fellow The Britiah Academy
United Kingdom
1/01/2009 -  Senior Lecturer (Above the Bar) in Child and Family Psychology University of Canterbury
New Zealand
1/04/2008 -  Deputy Director of Health Sciences University of Canterbury
Health Sciences Centre
New Zealand
1/01/2008 -  Deputy Director of Health Sciences University of Canterbury
New Zealand
1/02/2006 -  Conjoint Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry University of Newcastle
School of Medicine and Public Health
Australia
1/02/2006 -  Senior Lecturer In Child and Family Psychology University of Canterbury
New Zealand
1/01/2006 -  Conjoint Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry University of Newcastle
Australia
1/01/2001 - 1/02/2006 Lecturer in Psychiatry and Epidemiology University of Newcastle
School of Medicine and Public Health
Australia
1/01/1999 - 1/01/2000 Research Psychologist Hunter Area Health Service
1/01/1999 -  Membership - Australian Psychological Society Australian Psychological Society
Australia

Membership

Dates Title Organisation / Department
Trustee - Cholmondeley Children's Home, Christchurch Cholmondeley Children's Home, Christchurch
New Zealand
Member of the Research Advisory Committee Life Without Barriers Fostering Service
Australia
Member - Australian Psychological Society Australian Psychological Society
Australia

Professional appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/1999 -  Consulting Child and Family Psychologist Self Employed
Australia

Invitations

Participant

Year Title / Rationale
2005 Tarren-Sweeney, M. Out-of-Home Care & Outcomes for Children & What works best? Seminar presentation for the NSW Department of Community Services, Sydney June 30, 2005
2004 Tarren-Sweeney, M. Assessment of Children in Care. Invited presentation at Clinical and Psychometric Assessment in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Practice conference
Organisation: Sydney University
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 9
Total funding $777,971

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20101 grants / $2,000

International Conference on Adoption Research (ICAR3), University of Leiden, The Netherlands, 11 - 15 July 2010$2,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Health and Medicine

Funding body University of Newcastle - Faculty of Health and Medicine
Project Team Conjoint Associate Professor Michael Tarren-Sweeney
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2010
Funding Finish 2010
GNo G1000432
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20091 grants / $9,600

The Children in Care Study - Stage 4$9,600

Funding body: NSW Department of Community Services

Funding body NSW Department of Community Services
Project Team Conjoint Associate Professor Michael Tarren-Sweeney
Scheme Research Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2009
Funding Finish 2012
GNo G0189925
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - State
Category 2OPS
UON Y

20072 grants / $727,750

Living in a rural community: Determinants and consequences of mental health and wellbeing$717,750

Funding body: National Health & Medical Research Council

Funding body National Health & Medical Research Council
Project Team

Kelly, Brian

Scheme unknown
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2007
Funding Finish 2007
GNo
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON N

Criterion-referenced validation of the Assessment Checklist for Children (ACC): Ability to differentiate 5-11 year-old children in long-term foster care from same-aged children at large$10,000

Funding body: University of Canterbury

Funding body University of Canterbury
Project Team

Tarren-Sweeney, Michael

Scheme University research grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2007
Funding Finish 2007
GNo
Type Of Funding International - Non Competitive
Category 3IFB
UON N

20042 grants / $2,400

The 16th World Congress of the Int Assoc for Child & Adolescent Psychiatry & Allied Professions (IACAPAP), 22-26 August 2004, Germany$2,400

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Conjoint Associate Professor Michael Tarren-Sweeney
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2004
Funding Finish 2004
GNo G0184486
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

Rural community database for mental health research $0

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team

Kelly, Brian

Scheme University of Newcastle Research Infrastructure Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2004
Funding Finish 2007
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20031 grants / $310

The Network:Towards Unity fir Health International Conference 'Towards Equity in Education, Service and Health Care Delivery.' Newcastle 11-15 October 2003$310

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Conjoint Associate Professor Michael Tarren-Sweeney
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2003
Funding Finish 2003
GNo G0183318
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20001 grants / $27,911

The Children in Care Study$27,911

Funding body: NSW Department of Community Services

Funding body NSW Department of Community Services
Project Team Conjoint Associate Professor Michael Tarren-Sweeney
Scheme Research Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2000
Funding Finish 2000
GNo G0178693
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - State
Category 2OPS
UON Y

19961 grants / $8,000

A prospective study of mental health outcomes and associated risk factors, for children in foster care.$8,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Conjoint Professor Vaughan Carr, Conjoint Professor Philip Hazell, Conjoint Associate Professor Michael Tarren-Sweeney
Scheme Project Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 1996
Funding Finish 1996
GNo G0175674
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed7
Current4

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2008 Masters Analysis of qualitative responses to a national survey of parents of children with Downs Syndrome Psychology, Unknown Principal Supervisor
2008 Masters Development of an emotion knowledge intervention for treatment of disruptive behaviour among pre-school aged children. Psychology, Unknown Co-Supervisor
2008 Masters Foster and kinship (whanau) caregiver perceptions of contact between children in care and their birth parents Psychology, Unknown Principal Supervisor
2007 PhD The prevalence of anti-social behaviour among children in Canterbury-region primary schools Education Studies, Unknown Co-Supervisor

Past Supervision

Year Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2008 Masters Psychology, Unknown Co-Supervisor
2008 Masters Psychology, University of Canterbury Co-Supervisor
2008 Masters Functional asthma severity and impulsive behaviour in 6 and 7 year old children Psychology, Unknown Co-Supervisor
2008 Masters Therapeutic and support service provision for children with dual intellectual disability and emotional and/or behavioural difficulties in Christchurch, New Zealand Psychology, Unknown Principal Supervisor
2008 Masters Families' experiences of short-term residential respite care for children. Psychology, Unknown Principal Supervisor
2007 Masters Perceived training and service needs of foster parents in Christchurch Psychology, Unknown Principal Supervisor
2007 Masters Relationships between children's anxiety symptoms and asthma symptoms Psychology, Unknown Co-Supervisor
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Conjoint Associate Professor Michael Tarren-Sweeney

Position

Conjoint Associate Professor
School of Medicine and Public Health
Faculty of Health and Medicine

Contact Details

Email michael.tarrensweeney@newcastle.edu.au
Phone +64 3 3642 418

Office

Building University of Canterbury
Location Other

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