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The Australia and New Zealand Chapter of the
Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ANZ ACBS)

Who We Are

ANZ ACBS is a registered health promotion charity dedicated to alleviation of human suffering and advancement of human well-being through research and practice grounded in contextual behavioural science.

  

ANZ ACBS was founded in 2009 and is a community for researchers, educators and practitioners promoting and advancing contextual behavioural science. It is the home of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Relational Frame Theory (RFT) and Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP) in our region.

What We Do

As a chapter of the worldwide Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, ANZ ACBS works to spread contextual behavioural science (CBS) through our region by

  • creating opportunities for members to connect and share research, resources, and practice experience

  • hosting high quality professional development events attracting local and international researchers and trainers

  • working to promote inclusion of contextual behavioural science to the curriculum of psychology, education, medicine, social work, and allied health

 

Our conferences and training events typically have a strong focus on ACT, RFT, FAP and the emerging field of process-based therapies. Therapeutic approaches including Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) are also frequently featured because of similarity and compatibility with CBS approaches.

Our Guiding Principles and Values

The popular ACBS phrase of “living and leading with our head, heart and hands,” was introduced by Steve Hayes, one of the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy founders, as a model for promoting vital lives and communities. So, what does this phrase mean specifically for us at ANZ ACBS?

The Head. Our Science: What We Do.

  

The head (or foundation) of our work at ANZ ACBS is cultivated at the intersection of basic science, applied science, and practice. The head is what we do (i.e., promote local CBS research and scholarship, organise our regional conference and practical workshops, etc.) in the service of the heart (the why).

The Heart. Our Purpose: Why We Do it.

  

The heart is the compass that directs what we do and how we do it. The ANZ ACBS heart is focused on researching, teaching and disseminating powerful, empirically supported, accessible and compassionate ways of alleviating human suffering and connecting people to vitality.

The Hands. Our Community and Values: How We Do It.

   

Stepping up and committing to our organisation’s values requires the cultivation, nourishment and cooperation of a local and global CBS community - the hands. Our community is made up of local board members and staff, local members across Australia and New Zealand, and international ACBS members. Social change is consciously built into our organisation. As a community, ANZ ACBS is committed to values of accessibility, transparency, pragmatism (doing what works), generous scholarship and practice, and philanthropy.

Meet the ANZ ACBS Board

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Julian McNally

President

​Julian is a Melbourne-based counselling psychologist and founder of The ACT of Living, Melbourne’s first centre for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Training. He convened the Melbourne ACT peer supervision group from 2005-2008 and the Melbourne Northern ACT peer supervision group from 2011-2015. He is a Charter Member of the ACBS and previously served as a committee member of the ANZ Chapter (2009-2012) and as a committee member of the Australian Psychological Society Interest Group. Julian’s clinical interests are in application of RFT principles, especially of spatial and deictic metaphors, of evolutionary psychology principles especially for attachment and attention problems and in therapy outcomes and deliberate practice.

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Michael Swadling

Immediate Past President

Michael is a clinical psychologist and registered supervisor, and currently works as Senior Advisor for Mental Wellbeing Initiatives at RMIT University. He has been the facilitator of the Melbourne Early Career ACT Therapist peer consultation group since 2015. He is one of the organisers of the Melbourne ACT in the Pub event series, and the 2021 ANZ ACBS Conference. He is passionate about community-building and sharing ACT, CBS, and behaviourism. His clinical work has focused on student counselling with areas of special interest in impostor syndrome, identity, and trauma. His past research focused on the wellbeing and burnout of psychologists and other human service professionals, and recently on university staff and student experiences of psychosocial safety climate, as well as role engagement and exhaustion.

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Lisa Mastin-Purcell

Acting Secretary

​Lisa is a Master of Clinical Psychology candidate and part of the CBS ACTUALISE Lab at La Trobe University. Before studying psychology, Lisa spent 5 years working in corporate Learning and Development – she loved helping people to learn but something was missing. She wanted to help people to live more meaningful lives, to find the things they were passionate about, the things that really matter to them. Lisa first came across ACT in her undergraduate years and it resonated with her immediately. She then had the opportunity in 2019 to undertake her honours thesis under the supervision of Eric Morris looking at the role of Psychological Flexibility in sleep and that’s where her ACT journey really began. Since then she has become interested in both the research and applied sides of ACT, Psychological Flexibility and CBS. In 2020, Lisa began her postgraduate psychology studies, where she looks forward to learning more about the clinical side of ACT and undertaking research into psychological flexibility.

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Grant Dewar

Treasurer

​Grant is a Work Health and Safety Advisor to the Australian Federal Government department Intellectual Property Australia, assisting in the implementation of  the Australian Public Sector Mental Health Framework.  He first came into contact with ANZ ACBS at its 2010 National Conference in Adelaide. He has presented papers and workshops at numerous national and international conferences He has experience as a health worker, educator, health and safety and welfare adviser and a human resource professional and uses this experience to inform delivery of assistance to the needs of individuals, families and communities. Through this he is able to contribute to improvements in quality of life. He has completed a number of master’s degrees and a PHD which focussed on the benefits of self-forgiveness.  He works collaboratively with a wide range of people in the community to make a contribution to service delivery in business, health and community settings.

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Renae Kolia

Member-at-Large

Renae is a registered psychologist and has worked in the mental health field in various roles for over 12 years. She has a Bachelor of Psychology and Graduate Diploma in Education (School Psychology). She has worked as a school psychologist in primary schools and high schools across Perth, and in private practice. Renae is passionate about working with school-aged children and young people and supporting them to discover and develop insight and skills that will help them throughout their lives. She also enjoys working with parents and other caring adults to support them to build skills and understanding to further enhance their parent-child relationship and their child’s wellbeing. Renae believes every person has the ability to make meaningful and value-centred decisions about their lives. Therefore, working in partnership with children, young people and families is central to her approach. Reneae views the role of a psychologist as not to be an expert about a person’s life as that is their role, but to bring their understanding of psychology, development, mental health and wellbeing, to shine a light on certain areas the person or family are raising, and to support them to build their own understanding and to live a meaningful life, whatever that looks like to them.

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Brendon Knott

Member-at-Large

Brendon is a clinical psychologist who first discovered ACT and CBS in 2002 and found that functional contextualism was an ideal framework for working with compassion, flexibility and precision, with divserse populations in both a public community health setting, along with private practice. Brendon is also a lecturer and trainer who is passionate about helping students and clinicians who wish to deepen their understanding of ACT and contextual behavioural therapies, and to ground their clinical work in the foundational building blocks of functional contextualism, behaviour-analytic principles, and relational frame theory. He has lectured undergraduate and post-graduate psychology students in ACT and CBS for over 10 years at the University of Newcastle, provides CBS-related videos on his YouTube channel (Contextual Interventions), and in recent years has run training workshops at national and international conferences. Brendon has a deep interest in the broader applications of CBS skills, and works as a research consultant on a number of projects in this area. He has co-developed a mobile phone app for medical students which delivers ACT skills training in a format tailored to the individual, and a set of virtual reality training modules for the Australian Defence Force (Performance Edge) which delivers CBS-related skills in an immersive training format.

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Lauren Lawson

Member-at-Large

Lauren (she/her) is a Clinical Psychologist and Lecturer in Clinical Psychology in the School of Psychology & Public Health at La Trobe University. She has been practicing within an ACT framework for the past 5 years, including supervising and training provisional psychologists. Lauren is co-director of the ACTUALISE Lab at La Trobe University, which aims to bring together researchers, clinicians, and students who have an interest in contextual behavioural science. Lauren’s research interests are focused on mental health and wellbeing of autistic adults, understanding the impact of transdiagnostic factors (e.g., psychological flexibility, experiential avoidance) on the development and maintenance of mental health and sleep difficulties, and developing evidence based psychological interventions through a contextual behavioural science framework. She is passionate about using a CBS framework to develop the research and clinical skills of the next generation of psychologists.

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Vin Allen

Member-at-Large
NZ Representative

Vin is a PhD student at the University of Auckland in the department of Psychological Medicine. He and his team are currently working on a project to develop digital tools to support the delivery of Focused Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (fACT) in New Zealand primary care contexts. He's a big fan of third-wave behavioural therapies such as ACT and fACT, and extending the use of these to solve population health problems is a primary focus of the team's research. Mental health research is one of Vin's passions, and he feels very lucky to be able to make a living out of doing research in this area. He's always been passionate about the philosophy of Behaviourism, and credit's B. F. Skinner’s Radical Behaviourism for initially sparked his interest in Relational Frame Theory, and subsequently Contextual Behavioural Sciences. These approaches underlie all of his research endeavours, and he's keen to be a part of a community of fellow CBS researchers.

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Andrew St Lawrence

Student Representative

Andrew is a Master of Clinical Psychology candidate at La Trobe University. Before studying psychology, Andrew spent time working as an Automotive Engineer in Detroit, Michigan, and although springs and gears are undoubtedly fascinating, in 2017 Andrew decided to shift his career toward his passion of helping people do more of what matters to them. Alongside his formal psychological training, Andrew spent time in Mental Health Support in Complex Services, where he started an educational initiative for other mental health professionals to learn about ACT-based concepts. Andrew favours ACT as his primary therapeutic approach in his clinical role as a Provisional Psychologist, and relishes opportunities to learn more about contextual behavioural science through his studies. Currently completing his Master’s thesis under the supervision of Eric Morris, Andrew is investigating the role of self-transcendence and other psychological flexibility processes in mitigating paranoia symptomology. Andrew is now completing the final year of his postgraduate training, and looks forward to learning more about CBS in other clinical settings.

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Vacant

Member-at-Large

NZ Representative

Board members are volunteers, elected annually by the membership for a term of 2 years for most roles, and 3 years for the role of president (1 year as president-elect, 1 year as president, and 1 year as past president).

The 2022-2023 board was elected by members in December 2022, and where casual vacancies have arisen the board may appoint replacement board members.

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