School of Health Professions

Our Counselling Research Team

The researchers in the Counselling Discipline are engaged in projects involving challenges people face in all stages of life, including children with ADHD, the effects of trauma on children and adults, end-of-life counselling, and grief and bereavement. Our researchers are also involved in exploring emerging areas such as e-health and mobile health, and the impact that technology has on wellbeing.

As part of the School of Health Professions, we have a focus and alliance with other researchers and the community examining and evaluating better ways of providing care to people, families and populations affected by physical and mental illness or facing struggles of daily living. We seek to support practitioners and consumers to flourish by exploring self-care, personal strengths and meaning as part of the totality of human experience. We are committed to producing high quality and relevant research that assists the translation of research findings into practice and helps to provide an evidence-base for practicing counsellors and psychotherapists.

Some of the specific staff interests and projects are outlined in more detail below:     

  • School of Health Professions

    Dr. Brenda Bentley, BA, MPA, MA, PhD
    • Palliative care
    • End of life mental health and wellbeing
    • Dignity therapy

    Researcher Profile & Publications >

    Dr Brenda Bentley is a counselling psychologist who has worked in palliative care settings in the US and Australia since 2009. Her research focuses on improving care for people diagnosed with life-limiting conditions. She has specific expertise in motor neurone disease, and in an end-of-life intervention called Dignity Therapy, a life review psychotherapy that creates a document detailing important aspects of a person’s life. Her current research is exploring the feasibility of online psychotherapy for palliative care patients. Brenda is also involved in a project which is evaluating optimal ways to provide community nursing services for neurological patients in Western Australia.

  • School of Health Professions

    Prof. Godfrey Barrett-Lennard, PhD, BSc, BA, DocUniv (Hon)
    • Psychological assessment
    • Qualitative Research


    Dr Godfrey Barrett-Lennard's areas of interest and expertise involves exploring the theory and measurement of helping other relationships; self-concept theory and study. He has highly commended research in the areas of inquiry into experiential group processes, adult life events and change, community and identity.

  • School of Health Professions

    Dr. Margaret Sealey, BPsych (Hons), PhD
    • Dementia counselling
    • Palliative care
    • Grief, loss & bereavement

    Researcher Profile & Publications >

    Dr Margaret Sealey is a counsellor and has worked in end-of-life settings since 1997. Her specific research area is grief and bereavement using translational research methods. She has developed a new brief grief measure suitable for use in palliative care to identify individuals at risk of complicated or prolonged grief. Her other research interests include caregiving; social attitudes to death and dying, grief and bereavement; compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout; support for people affected by dementia (care recipients and family carers); developing resilience and coping

  • School of Health Professions

    Dr. Nigel Williams, BA(Hons) Psychology, PhD
    • Childhood & adolescent behaviour and AD/HD
    • Stress, coping and motivation

    Researcher Profile & Publications >

    Dr. Nigel Williams’ primary areas of research interest are in child and adolescent mental health. In particular non-pharmacological approaches to Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), young peoples’ performance anxiety (particularly academic, sport and music), stress and coping, resilience and wellness.

  • School of Health Professions

    Mr. Gaston Antezana, BPsych (Hons) PACFA Reg. Clinical, CCAA (Clinical), MBA (HRM)
    • Cognitive behavioural psychology
    • Systemic psychology
    • Neuropsychology

    Researcher Profile & Publications >

    Gaston is completing his PhD research on the area of Mobile Health (mHealth) and wellbeing with a particular focus on young people’s mental health. He is also interested in Cognitive-Behavioural Psychology, Systemic Psychology and Neuropsychology. Gaston has experience in clinical, educational and organisational psychology.

  • School of Health Professions

    Dr. Petra Skeffington, BA (Hons), MC, MPsych, PhD
    • Trauma and PTSD
    • Resilience in adults
    • Post-traumatic growth
    • High risk professions

    Researcher Profile & Publications >

    Dr Petra Skeffington's research interests include trauma, PTSD (etiology, treatment and prevent), resilience in adults, assessment of psychological interventions, post-traumatic growth, lifestyle and wellbeing, therapeutic relationship, high-risk professions and evaluation of creative therapies.

Active Counselling Research Topics

Developing of a best practice community nursing model of neurological care for metropolitan Perth, WA Anne Williams, Kathy McCoy, Brenda Bentley, Leanne Monterroso, Charles Watson
Delivery of dignity therapy using e-health: A feasibility study Brenda Bentley, Moira O’Connor, Lauren Breen, Robert Kane, Racheal Moorin
Dignity Therapy in the Australian Context: Creating a culturally sensitive dignity intervention for Aboriginal Western Australians with advanced Cancer. Bentley B., Williams AM., Marriot R.

Looking to study a research degree?

If you’re looking to take on a research degree, we offer supervision in a range of research topics within a fundamental or applied nature in counselling and mental health. Please contact Dr Brenda Bentley: b.bentley@murdoch.edu.au for more information.

For further topics available in the School of Health Professions please see the Chiropractic Research and Nursing Research pages.

Participated in a study?

Should you wish to find out further information regarding the outcome of a study that you have taken part in, please see the recent summary reports and publication links below, or contact the relevant lead investigator listed above for further details.

The relationship between suicide prevention training and student counsellor self-efficacy Mr. Adam Birch and Dr. Nigel Williams