Practitioner of the Year 2022 Recipient


Emma was nominated by her Senior Psychologist Education as an exceptional practitioner and a role model of professional school counselling practice. The student is always firmly at the centre of everything she does, and she consistently goes above and beyond to identify student needs, and to facilitate access to the support, advocacy, intervention, and connection students require to navigate the rigours of school life. Emma’s major professional accomplishment is a deep understanding of the privilege and responsibility of her role in working with young people in schools, and the unique opportunity it presents to create small templates of wellness to positively influence student mental health trajectories during and beyond the school years. Emma is particularly skilled at working with the most vulnerable student populations, including students on the autism spectrum, transgender and LGBTIQ+ students, students at risk, and anxious and school-avoidant students, to ensure that they have the resources and support they need to access educational opportunities and to fulfill their potential.

New Practitioner of the Year 2022 Recipient


Leonie was nominated by her Principal who described Leonie as critical in creating a positive school climate across both Primary and High school settings, where all students feel empowered and equipped with the skillset needed to navigate life. Leonie has utilised her psychological and educational expertise in mental health, learning, and behaviour to help young people succeed academically, socially, behaviourally, and emotionally. Two examples of how Leonie understands the individual needs of students and develops their strengths through evidence-based intervention programs are the Feeling is Thinking (FisT) program, an eight-week group-work program that significantly reduced incidences of negative behaviours. Her work involved the exploration of student feelings, role play of assertive behaviours and developing of problem-solving skills. Within the high school setting, Leonie designed and implemented an ACT-based intervention workshop for Year 8 students to promote adaptive coping skills and value-congruent behaviours. Leonie demonstrates strong interpersonal skills in her ability to establish positive relationships with students, parents and staff founded on mutual respect and understanding.. In all her interactions, Leonie maintains a deep level of engagement through active listening, being inquisitive and asking open-ended questions, allowing her to fully understand and appreciate the perspectives and realities of those in the professional relationship. Altogether, this has enabled Leonie to deliver an effective psychological service that upholds strong ethical standards.

Innovator of the Year 2022 Recipients


Kaveri and Kristina were nominated by their Leader of Psychological Practice for researching and incorporating the multi-dimensional model of psychological wellbeing (Ryff, 1989), encompassing autonomy, personal growth, environmental mastery, purpose in life, positive relations and self-acceptance into a small group intervention. They reviewed the literature on evidence-based group programs utilising CBT as a proactive approach to promoting wellbeing and positive behaviours. Their program aims to create an understanding of flourishing where participants have the opportunity to experience positive emotions, positive psychological functioning & positive social functioning. They used Canva to produce a facilitators manual and resources to be used in session and for students to take home for reflection. They developed an innovative seven-week program called Flourish, which is aimed at Stage 3 students who have difficulties with emotional regulation which is mildly impacting their wellbeing. The Flourish program comprises experiential activities involving participants in creative, physical and intellectual ways. A substantial discussion component is included to give participants an opportunity to connect on a personal level and to discuss issues that are relevant to them. Two pilots have been completed, with high levels of engagement from all participants and participant feedback being overwhelmingly positive. In Term 4, it is being run with 3 new groups in other schools, enabling peer review of the program. Kaveri and Kristina will then provide PL to the school counselling service in western Sydney in Semester 1, 2023. Future planning to train members of the school counselling service across the state are in discussion.