Mike is Associate Professor and Director of Postgraduate training in Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Western Australia, School of Psychological Science. He is a clinical neuropsychologist and clinical psychologist with extensive clinical, teaching and research experience in working with acquired brain injury, dementia and healthy cognitive aging. He has worked in hospital settings, including directing a residential rehabilitation program for brain injured veterans in the USA. Since coming to UWA in 2005 he has developed a research program evaluating neuropsychological and lifestyle factors relevant to quality of life and functional capacity amongst individuals with acquired brain injury and dementia, as well as cognitive changes seen in typical ageing. He has co- supervised more than 30 PhD students (11 to completion 21 in progress), as well as numerous DPsych, Master’s and honours projects in these and related areas of research.
Dr Carmela Pestell is a registered Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychologist and a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society (APS). Dr Pestell has been an Associate Professor at the University of Western Australia (UWA) School of Psychological Science since 2013. She has nearly 30 years of experience as a clinician and lecturer. Dr Pestell was the full-time director of the state-wide Neurosciences Unit (Health Dep. WA) for 17 years (between 1996 and 2013). She completed a secondment at the Complex Attention and Hyperactivity Disorders Service (CAHDS) as the clinical director from 2010 to 2011. Dr Pestell has also run a successful part-time private practice since 2003, working with children and adults with acquired brain injuries within clinical, medico-legal and forensic contexts in metropolitan, rural and remote settings. Dr Pestell is an Honorary Research Fellow with Curtin University due to her role as an investigator in the CREST concussion research program. Whilst Dr Pestell has predominantly worked as a clinician and director of health services, she has remained actively involved in research and has welcomed the opportunity to expand upon these activities since her appointment at UWA in 2013. Since she arrived at UWA, Dr Pestell has co-supervised nearly 20 PhD students, 4 Masters students and 20 Honours students. Her research interests relate to the neuropsychological implications of neurodevelopmental disorders (FASD and ADHD), acquired brain injury and mood disorders in clinical and justice populations. She is particularly interested in predictors of outcome in brain injury and how neuropsychological factors such as mood, apathy and executive functioning affect recovery and prognosis. This research has the potential to improve diagnosis and clinical assessments as well as guide treatment interventions and rehabilitation across clinical and forensic settings.
Rodrigo is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of the Robin Winkler Clinic with the School of Psychological Science at the University of Western Australia. Rodrigo is fully registered as a psychologist, endorsed clinical psychologist, and an endorsed clinical supervisor of higher degree clinical psychology trainees by the Psychology Board of Australia. Rodrigo has worked in hospital settings (Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and Alma Street, Fremantle Hospital) and private practice for 20 years.
David is a Clinical Psychologist and a Psychology Board of Australia approved supervisor. He is a Clinical Lecturer at Curtin University, an Adjunct Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia, Co-Director at Black Swan Psychological Assessment & Therapy, and the Chair of Professional Development for the WA branch of the APS College of Clinical Psychologists. His main research and practice interests are in transdiagnostic approaches to assessing, conceptualising, and treating emotional disorders/problems. David has led the development of several widely used psychometric tools, including the Perth Alexithymia Questionnaire (PAQ) and Perth Emotion Regulation Competency Inventory (PERCI).
Sarah completed a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science and a Graduate Diploma in Psychology with First Class Honours at the University of Western Australia (UWA). She completed her honours with ABI:RECOVER. Here she developed a keen interest in psychology, neurology, and medicine which motivated her to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy and Masters of Clinical Neuropsychology.
Throughout her studies, Sarah has worked with a variety of people with brain injuries and other neurological disorders. ABI:RECOVER is a rewarding project that offers a unique combination of research and clinical practice. As this area of research continues to grow, we aim to investigate how cognition changes over time and its impact on recovery.
Sarah is a strong advocate of the project and the value that neuropsychological assessment can add to rehabilitation. She is passionate about multidisciplinary teamwork and patient-centred care, by understanding the challenges that people with brain injuries and their families face in their day-to-day lives, we hope to improve people’s wellbeing and functional outcomes. Most importantly this project would not be possible without the generosity of our participants.
As a member of the ABI:RECOVER project, Sarah completed her honours investigating interventions for prospective memory in older and younger adults in the community.
Sarah is currently in her final year of her PhD/Masters. Her research focuses on apathy and depression, and how these mood disorders predict outcomes following a brain injury. She hopes to evaluate how apathy and depression are related (spoiler they are two related but distinct disorders). This research will hopefully lay the foundation for future interventions that specifically target apathy to improve rehabilitation engagement and outcomes for people while recovering from a brain injury.
Natalie completed a Bachelor of Science and First Class Honours at Murdoch University before moving to UWA for postgraduate study. Natalie is currently in her second year of the Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Clinical Neuropsychology course. Natalie’s main area of interest is brain injury research and neuropsychological intervention. Working in the ABI:RECOVER team has allowed her to develop a research project within her area of interest and enjoy the benefits of working in a tight-knit team.
The ability to regulate your emotions is fundamental to psychological wellbeing and the establishment and maintenance of interpersonal relationships. Difficulties regulating emotions are often reported following a brain injury and this can hamper recovery, and negatively impact psychological wellbeing and social relationships. The first part of our research will seek to review the effectiveness and quality of emotion regulation interventions following a brain injury. We will also conduct a study of a newly developed psychometric tool, The Perth Emotion Regulation Competency Inventory (PERCI), with the aim of determining its validity for use in an acquired brain injury population. In addition, guided by James Gross’ Extended Process Model, we aim to develop a group therapy program for individuals with a brain injury who have difficulty regulating their emotions. This program aims to improve emotion regulation ability by comprehensively addressing difficulties faced by individuals who have difficulty regulating their emotions, why and how these difficulties may occur and how we can overcome them, using examples drawn from the groups real-life experiences. The thesis aims to enhance our understanding of the measurement and remediation of emotion regulation difficulties following a brain injury, and establish a comprehensive and effective intervention that is strongly embedded in a contemporary theoretical framework.
Danielle has completed her Bachelor of Science and First Class Honours in Psychology at the University of Western Australia (UWA). Danielle is a Provisional Psychologist and is currently completing a combined masters/doctorate program in Clinical Neuropsychology at UWA. She has worked extensively with people with brain injury in her role as a community support worker and is an advocate for community integration and functional independence after brain injury. Danielle is a student ambassador for the Australasian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment (ASSBI), a multidisciplinary society dedicated to improving the quality of life of people with brain impairment and their families. Inspired by the role neuropsychology plays in brain injury rehabilitation, Danielle hopes to increase functioning, decrease disability and re-establish quality of life in people living with brain impairment when she has completed her studies.
Danielle’s thesis aims to 1) characterise the nature and prevalence of alexithymia (difficulties in identifying and describing emotions) in adults with acquired brain injury; 2) validate a new measure of alexithymia – the Perth Alexithymia Questionnaire – in a brain-injured population and 3) investigate whether alexithymia is a potential predictor of functional outcomes after brain injury. Her supervisory team includes Assoc. Prof Michael Weinborn, Assoc. Prof Carmela Pestell, Assoc. Prof Rodrigo Becerra and Assoc. Prof Gilles Gignac.
Sammy completed her Bachelor of Arts and Honours in Psychology at Edith Cowan University. She is enrolled in the combined PhD/Masters program in Clinical Neuropsychology at UWA. She has worked across a variety of industries, such as the corporate, arts and community service sectors. This has allowed her to develop a unique skillset and have a wide understanding of numerous cohorts and their complexities. This experience has helped Sammy understand the role of neuropsychology in screening, diagnosing and treating vulnerable individuals to improve their quality of life and have better access to support.
As a member of the ABI:RECOVER project, Sammy’s research will build upon the previous work conducted by the team. Her thesis will focus on hot executive functioning in individuals with an acquired brain injury, and whether it can predict long-term outcomes. Her supervisory team includes Assoc. Prof Michael Weinborn, Assoc. Prof Carmela Pestell and Assoc. Prof Rodrigo Becerra
Emily is a first-year student in the MPsych/Phd (Clinical Psychology) program at the University of Western Australia (UWA). She completed a Bachelor of Science (Hons) at UWA in 2021 and is also a graduate of the Hakomi Psychotherapy Professional Training. Her research centres on emotional wellbeing and social cognition following brain injury. Additional interests include neuropsychology, child and adolescent mental health and rehabilitation. Outside of uni, Emily enjoys playing and teaching flute, swimming, kayaking and above all, coffee!
Research: Emily’s research explores relationships between empathy, emotion regulation, and psychopathology in people with an acquired brain injury (ABI). Growing evidence suggests that empathy and emotion regulation processes are closely linked, however it is not clear how they interrelate in people with ABI. This is an important question, as emotion processing deficits are extremely common after brain injury, impacting survivors’ interpersonal relationships and emotional well-being. As part of this project, Emily also aims to validate a new measure for potential use in ABI populations – The Perth Empathy Scale
Chloe is a student in the combined MPsych/PhD (Clinical Neuropsychology) program at the University of Western Australia (UWA). She completed a Bachelor of Psychology with Honours in 2021, at Monash University in Melbourne. Chloe is most interested in working with people with brain injuries, assessing their current functioning post injury and aiding them in their recovery process. Being a part of the ABI:RECOVER project has allowed Chloe to conduct research within her area of interest, and to gain experience working with people with a brain injury.
Chloe’s research focuses on apathy, and how this relates to cognition and everyday functioning in those with an acquired brain injury (ABI). More specifically, Chloe aims to clarify the subtypes or domains of apathy, and how these may differentially relate to relevant cognitive domains and functional outcomes. This is important to address, as apathy is a common and persistent problem seen in those with ABI, and can interfere with everyday activities as well as engagement in rehabilitation.
Valentina Correa Castillo
Valentina completed a Bachelor of Science in Psychological Science at the University of Arizona and a Master of Science in Forensic Psychology at Arizona State University. She is currently an Honours student under the supervision of Associate Professor Rodrigo Becerra and Associate Professor Michael Weinborn at the University of Western Australia. Her main research interest is emotion regulation in people with brain injury, and her current research project aims to find if people with acquired brain injury who have higher difficulty regulating their emotions have lower executive functioning skills.
Jess completed a Bachelor of Science in 2021 at the University of Western Australia and is currently completing her Honours in Psychology, focusing on prospective memory in individuals with acquired brain injury (ABI). Specifically, Jess aims to explore whether prospective memory is a unique predictor of everyday functioning following an ABI, above and beyond measures of executive functions and verbal memory. Her supervisory team includes Assoc. Prof Michael Weinborn and Assoc. Professor Rodrigo Becerra.
Yong Xiang Yeo
Thesis: “An exploration of metacognition and functional outcomes in adults with acquired brain injury”
Thesis: “Evaluating prospective memory following acquired brain injury in adults: Outcome and rehabilitation”