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
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.
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.
Melissa is a research fellow at the Research for Educational Impact centre at Deakin University, with a PhD in educational psychology focusing on socio-educational equity particularly for young Indigneous Australians. Working in Colombia, she used ACT-based art approaches with female adolescents exposed to conflict related sexual violence. In Australia, she is working toward the application of contextual behavioural science and evolutionary science in schools internationally through Prosocial schools and Positive Peace international networks. Melissa is a co-founding member of Prosocial Australia Cooperative which seeks to assist groups of people to work better together to create deliberate futures through collaborative governance and cultural behaviour change. Melissa has over 20 years of experience across a range of organisations from government departments, private consulting, and NGOs, in Australia and in Colombia. Melissa is a past treasurer of ANZ ACBS, has been an active member of the ACBS Chapter and SIG committee committees and has presented at past ACBS World Conferences.
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.
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.
Justin is a Clinical Psychologist working in private practice in Crows Nest, Sydney. He provides supervision to Intern Clinical Psychologists completing the Master of Clinical Psychology program at Macquarie University. Justin also consults within the Voice Connection Clinic – a unique multidisciplinary team treating people with voice disorders. Justin has been a member of the ANZ ACBS since 2016 and has attended ANZ ACBS conferences in Melbourne (2016) and Canberra (2020) and the ACBS World Conference in 2021. Justin will be presenting a workshop titled ‘Working with Suicidal Clients: Rethinking Risk and Working Contextually’ at the ANZ ACBS 2021 conference. Justin is passionate about applying Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) across a variety of settings, and introducing his supervisees to the house of functional contextualism.
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.
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.
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.
Andrew St Lawrence
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.
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).