I had been a high school teacher for 10 years and was at home with a small child and feeling a bit bored. A friend suggested that we go back to university and study psychology. My initial reaction was ‘what a stupid idea’ but she insisted and I went along. After the first year my friend returned to teaching and I kept going with psychology. The more I did the more interesting I found it. I did not set out to become a clinical psychologist but found myself moving steadily in that direction. I was in the first intake into the clinical PhD program and it was towards the end of this program that I discovered a fascination for childhood developmental disorders.
Clinical researchers are looking to answer important questions the same as researchers in non-clinical areas. Good clinical research I think addresses questions that are of real importance to the people with whom we want to work. The skill is in finding those important questions and creating the means by which to address them. As researchers we also want many people to know about the outcomes of our work and we are encouraged to publish and speak at conferences (which means we get to travel). In many ways this level of dissemination is not good enough. For our clinical research to have any meaning we must be able to disseminate it much further than a ‘peer-reviewed journal’ or a conference attended by other academics. Clinical research needs to be translated into clinical practice just as much as medical research.
I am working quite a lot with the Stepping Stones Triple P Program for parents of children with special needs. We have several research projects evaluating the efficacy and effectiveness of the program with different disabilities and using different levels of intervention. I am also working with colleagues on some more experimental work aimed to evaluate the development of the concept of ownership in adults with Asperger syndrome – using motion capture technology. I am collaborating with a group of researchers to further evaluate an interactive computer-based intervention to increase social understanding in children with Asperger syndrome and this is being conducted in a school setting.
I love to travel and spend some time each year in the Champagne region of France. I also like cold weather (snow) and love to ski even though strenuous physical exercise is not high on my list of favourite pastimes. I can be relied on to ‘do lunch’ with very little excuse required.