Health Alumni

Pyschology Alumni Chapter

Alumni profiles

We are interested in hearing from our graduates and hope that, as you read through the profiles on these pages, you might like to let us know what you have been doing since studying at Deakin University (or its antecedent institutions). Please contact us on if you would like to be profiled.


Rachel Pulfer
Master of Psychology (Clinical), completed in 2009
Geelong Waterfront Campus
Previous qualification(s):
Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology
Bachelor of Arts

For Rachel Pulfer, the decision to move from another university to study her Master of Psychology (Clinical) at Deakin was based on the more balanced, comprehensive nature of Deakin’s course compared to many of the other options out there.

‘Many other universities focus on a particular type of therapy, usually Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, whereas Deakin provides a much more balanced course - also teaching Family Systems and Psychodynamic Therapy. These two therapies, I feel, will add to my effectiveness as a psychologist.’

Rachel is also greatly appreciating the practical approach of Deakin’s course, and the quality of the teaching staff: ‘The practical approach to psychology within the course makes it very relevant, and the assignments we complete are based on gaining practical skills, as well as how to apply those skills. The teachers are very enthusiastic, and they teach us about the current debates within the field’.

After she completes her masters, Rachel hopes to gain work as a clinical psychologist in a public organisation, and is particularly keen to work with children. Currently in the first year of her masters, she will soon complete a clinical placement as part of her Deakin course, and plans to request a placement working with children so that it’s particularly relevant for her intended future career path. ‘Children have a unique array of psychological issues, and it is particularly important to familiarise myself with them in a supervised manner.’

In addition to this placement with children, the project and thesis Rachel has been able to work on through her Deakin masters will add substantially to her knowledge, skills and confidence for her desired future career path.

‘Deakin has given me the opportunity to do my thesis on learning difficulties, specifically dyslexia, which will be really valuable for me working with children in the future. My thesis aims to treat dyslexic children to improve their literacy and find which treatments particular children best respond to. In turn, this allows me to develop skills in dealing with children, both on a social and clinical level.’

Rachel credits volunteer placements she completed during her previous course as her career highlights to date: ‘I volunteered at a crisis centre and a counselling organisation, which really helped to deepen my understanding on the theory and use of clinical psychology. It was also a particularly fulfilling experience, as it exposed me to the many different experiences within people’s lives’.

For Rachel, one of the biggest highlights of studying psychology and, in the future, working in the profession, is the use of various styles of therapy: ‘We look at Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), family systems, as well as psychodynamic therapy - which makes it very diverse. I also have a wide range of potential placements, each with its own exciting opportunities. For the future I think that clinical psychology, in particular, will have a high degree of satisfaction because of being able to help people on a practical level.’

When asked what she is particularly enjoying about doing her course at Deakin, the first thing that springs to mind for Rachel is the teaching staff. ‘The teachers and supervisors at Deakin have given me opportunities to extend myself.’

In terms of recommending Deakin to others considering a masters in psychology, Rachel’s response is clear:

‘Because Deakin provides a much more balanced view of clinical psychology, not simply focusing on cognitive Behavioural Therapy, I think that the course provided by Deakin would be an extremely good recommendation for anyone considering a future career in clinical psychology. Furthermore, the quality of supervisors and teachers within the course are excellent, they have a great deal of experience and expertise, which in turn gives the course a great deal of depth that may not be found at other universities.’

Gillian Campbell
Graduated: Deakin University, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (Honours), 2006
Now: Studying for a three year Doctorate in Clinical Psychology
The Deakin environment is … ‘great. Being a less conventional university it feels more relaxed and not as traditional as older ones. There’s room to move and a sense of community here made possible by its size – it’s not too big and not too small.’
Undergraduate studies at Deakin … ‘gave me time to work out what I really wanted to do. I started with Arts/Law then had a break before coming back to finish the arts degree, majoring in professional writing and psychology. I really thought the writing was my primary interest and then psychology kind of took over. I really enjoyed it!’
Doing volunteer work (at Lifeline) was important … ‘because it also reinforced my decision. It really helped me find my “identity” as a psychologist and though it could be quite confronting it was really worthwhile. It also opened doors as it qualified me for paid work at Quitline. I will keep one day per week there throughout post-grad as I think it’s good to have something outside university life to remind me of what I’m aiming for.’
My advice would be … ‘study an area that you find interesting and it will pay off. I was amazed to win the Australian Psychologists Society Award for top Honours student but I know it’s because I love the field of study and I let my interest take me there.’
Dr Lisa Hardman
BA, BSc (Hons), DPsych (Clin), MAPS (Clinical College)

I completed my Professional Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Deakin University Burwood in 2000.
After graduating, I worked for Eastern Health for over 4 years within a Psychiatric Crisis Assessment and
Treatment Team. I then moved to St Vincent’s Health in Fitzroy and worked at the Barbara Walker Centre for
Pain Management for 2½ years. My main role at the pain clinic was to run intensive cognitive behavioural
group-based programs to help patients self-manage their persistent pain. Since August 2006 I have been employed by the Middle South Primary Mental Health Team in the Southern Health network.

My current role involves liaison, consultation and education with General Practitioners, Community Health
Centres and other Primary Care Providers in relation to high prevalence psychiatric illness, specifically
depression and anxiety. Also, in early 2007 I began working after hours in private practice at StayTuned
Sports Medicine Centre at the Knox Leisureworks Centre Medical Suites in Boronia. I specialise in
providing Cognitive Behavioural assessment and treatment and solution focused Interventions for a variety
of mental health issues. These include anxiety, depression, stress, serious mental illness, trauma, grief/loss issues,
self-esteem issues, relationship issues and chronic health conditions.








Deakin Alumni Profiles

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14th March 2012