Alice Shires is a Clinical Pychologist, Senior lecturer and Psychology Clinic Director at UTS. Alice heads the UTS Mindfulness Integrated Therapies Research Clinic (MTRC) Prior to this position, Alice has been the Director of the Psychology Clinic at UNSW for 12 years and worked as Clinic Manager at The University of Sydney and as Consultant Clinical Psychologist in acute and specialist mental health services in the UK. Alice has been involved in the teaching, training and supervision of clinical psychologists and their field supervisors for many years.
Alice has been teaching and supervising cognitive behavioural therapies over the last 20 years. She has developed expertise in Mindfulness and its integration into Cognitive and Behavioural therapies and has assisted in the development of accredited training in Mindfulness integrated CBT (MiCBT) and continues as an established trainer in MiCBT. She continues to teach advanced Mindfulness training for mental health professionals via the Mindfulness integrated CBT Institute http://www.mindfulness.net.au
Alice is involved in supervision of research in mindfulness integrated psychological therapies and is currently undertaking research projects investigating the possible effects of mindfulness training on anger, grief, experimental and chronic pain,
Alice was the Chair of the NSW Section of the APS Clinical College from 2006 to 2010 and a University representative on the Psychology Advisory Committee for the NSW Department of Health. She was a founding Board Member of the Australian Clinical Psychology Association ACPA from 2009 to 2012 and is currently the ACPA NSW section chair.
Affiliations & Memberships
Full registration with Psychology Board of Australia and endorsed in the clinical psychology area of practice
Chair, Australian Psychological Society, NSW College of Clinical Psychologists. APS 2007-2010
Member of National Executive of the Clinical College, APS 2007-2010
Australian Clinical Psychology Association. Board Member. 2009-2012
Institute of MiCBT Accreditation and Training Board Member 2009-2015
NSW Institute of Psychiatry Lecturer 2008-2011
Chair, Australasian Psychology Trainign Clinic Directors. 2003-current
Chair Australian Clinical Psychology Association NSW Section 2014-2017
Member Psychology Advisory Council NSW 2010-current
Fellow. Australian Clinical Psychology Association (ACPA) 2015
Part time member NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal(NCAT) occupationsal division.
Visiting Fellow UNSW 2016-2019.
Can supervise: YES
Clinical & Research Interests:
Clinical supervision processes and outcomes
Assessment of clinical psychology competencies
Mindfulness integrated Cognitive Behavioral Therapies.
Stevens, B, Hyde, J, Knight, R ,Shires, A, Alexander, R Competency-based training and assessment in Australian postgraduate clinical psychology education. Clinical Psychologist 2015.
Cartwright , C. Rhodes, P. King, R. Shires, A. Experiences of Countertransference: Reports of Clinical Psychology Students. Australian Psychologist. 49 (2014) 232-240
Gonsalvez, Craig J.; Bushnell, John; Blackman, Russell; Deane, Frank; Bliokas, Vida; Nicholson-Perry, Kathryn; Shires, Alice; Nasstasia, Yasmina; Allan, Christopher; Knight, Roslyn. Assessment of psychology competencies in field placements: Standardized vignettes reduce rater bias. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, Vol 7(2), May 2013, 99-111.
Gonsalvez, C. J., Shires, A., Allan, C. D., Knight, R., Nicholson-Perry, K., Blackman, R., Webster, R., Bushnell, J. A., Hyde, J. & Nasstasia, Y. (2011). A multi-site study on the assessment of clinical psychology competencies by field supervisors: Should vignettes replace rating scales?. Seventh International Interdisciplinary Conference on Clinical Supervision USA: Adelphi University.
Gonsalvez, Craig J., John A. Bushnell, R. Blackman, Frank P. Deane, Vida V. Bliokas, Yasmina Nasstasia, Kathryn Nicholson-Perry et al. "The use of vignettes to capture clinical psychology practicum competencies: vignette standardization and preliminary results." (2011): 31.
Shires, A and Miller, D. An exploratory study into psychological variables associated with erectile dysfunction in gay and straight men. Journal of Sexual and Marital Therapy, Vol 11, no.2, 1996
The application of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies across the lifespan.
Clinical Psychology Supervision.
Assessement of Clinical Psychology competencies.
Ethical and Professional Practice in Clinical Psychology.
Mindfulness integrated Cognitive behavioral therapy (MiCBT)
Mindfulness and pain coping.
Shires, AG, Cayoun, B & Francis, S 2018, The Clinical Handbook of Mindfulness-integrated Cognitive Behavior Therapy A Step-by-Step Guide for Therapists, Wiley, Australia.
Cayoun, B, Simmons, A & Shires, A 2018, 'Immediate and Lasting Chronic Pain Reduction Following a Brief Self-Implemented Mindfulness-Based Interoceptive Exposure Task: a Pilot Study', Mindfulness.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Abstract Recent imaging research shows that approximately 80%ofpeoplewhotransitfromacutetochronicpainproduce neuroplasticity linking pain pathways to learning areas of the brain, thus showing physiological evidence that chronic pain is largely learned. Mindfulness meditation programs have been used successfully to teach people a way of decreasing pain-related distress and unlearning their unhelpful relationship to pain. However, not all chronic pain patients are amenable to undergo a full mindfulness program and then maintaindailypractice.Accordingly,weconductedapilotstudyof a task extracted from a second-generation MBI, Mindfulnessintegrated Cognitive Behavior Therapy, which consisted of a self-guided 30-s mindfulness-based interoceptive exposure task (MIET) to pain sensations in 15 medically diagnosed chronic pain patients. Participants using the MIET repeatedly over 15 days learned not to identify with pain and focused on four subcomponents of interoception (mass, motion, temperature, and cohesiveness) while remaining equanimous. This ledtosignificantreductioninpainanxiety(p=.001;d=0.96), pain duration (p = .01;d = 0.86), and pain intensity after each 30-s exposure (p < .001;d = 1.37). These effects were maintained, and some further improved, at 2-month follow-up. Marked decrease in depression, anxiety and stress were also observed(p<.001;d=0.81).Whileparticipantsratedthetask as highly acceptable and some reduced their use of analgesic medication; no other change in medical or psychological
treatment was required. These early results show the potential for the MIET to be use as an adjunct to traditional treatments of chronic pain, although controlled studies are needed to establish the validity of our results. Brain-imaging studies are also needed to assess the possible unlearning effect of the MIET on corticolimbic regions, a process that may be termed Bcentral desensitization.^
Osborn, R, Girgis, M, Sladakovic, J, Morse, S, Kneebone, I, Shires, AG, Durvasula, S & Roberts, L 2018, 'Mindfulness-Integrated CBT (MiCBT) for Reducing Distress in Parents of Children with Intellectual Disability (ID): a Case Series."', Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 559-568.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Caring for a child with an intellectual disability (ID) is associated with significant psychological distress. Interventions include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Mindfulness-integrated CBT (MiCBT) may offer a balance between CBT's change focus and MBSR's acceptance focus for these parents. Five participants were recruited and provided one to one MiCBT tailored to parental carers of children with ID. Four participants completed the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales 21 (DASS-21) pre-treatment and post-treatment. Reliable change analysis was used to identify clinically reliable change. One participant dropped out after four sessions, four completed eight of the available eight sessions. Two participants reported reductions in depressive and stress symptoms, and one of these, additionally reported a reduction in anxiety symptoms. All four participants who completed treatment rated the treatment as acceptable. MiCBT shows promise as an intervention to assist parental carers of children with ID.
Shires, A, Sharpe, L & Newton John, T 2018, 'The relative efficacy of mindfulness versus distraction: the moderating role of attentional bias.', European journal of pain (London, England).View/Download from: Publisher's site
BACKGROUND:This study investigated whether the ability to disengage quickly from pain-related stimuli moderated the relative efficacy of a mindfulness-based intervention versus distraction in response to an experimental pain task. METHODS:Participants (n = 100) completed a dot-probe task with eye-tracking and were then randomized (2:2:1) to receive a mindfulness-based interoceptive exposure task (MIET), distraction instructions or no instructions (control group) before engaging in the cold pressor test. RESULTS:Participants who were allocated to the MIET condition reported a significantly higher pain threshold and distress than the distraction group, although not significantly higher than the control group. Those in the MIET group had improved tolerance compared to both the distraction and control groups. Difficulty disengaging from pain-related stimuli, as measured by the duration of the first fixation on sensory words, was found to moderate the relative efficacy of mindfulness versus distraction in terms of pain threshold and distress, but not tolerance. Those with difficulty disengaging from sensory pain words benefited less from the MIET. Duration of first fixation on sensory and affective pain words were highly correlated, and duration of first fixation on affective pain words also moderated the relative efficacy of MIET and distraction on threshold, but not distress. CONCLUSIONS:These results show that a single brief session of a mindfulness task was sufficient to change an acute pain experience in comparison to a distraction task, and that those who disengaged quickly from pain words benefited most. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Shires, A, Vrklevski, L, Hyde, J, Bliokas, V & Simmons, A 2017, 'Barriers to Provision of External Clinical Psychology Student Placements', Australian Psychologist, vol. 52, no. 2, pp. 140-148.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2016 The Australian Psychological Society Objective: With increasing focus on the treatment of mental health problems the need for clinical psychologists is expanding, driving strong demand for postgraduate clinical psychology training programs. Although the number of training places in Australia has increased, the availability of external placements appears to have lagged behind, causing significant challenges to students. Using a survey of clinical psychologists in New South Wales, Australia, this study evaluated the capacity for placements and explored issues that may impact on field placement capacity. Method: A survey was developed in order to identify potential student placement capacity and factors that may prevent potential supervisors from offering placements to students. The survey was distributed electronically through clinical psychology networks targeting those employed in NSW. Results: One hundred and forty endorsed clinical psychologists completed the survey. Of these, 42% stated they felt unable to offer field placements to students within the next 12 months. The most commonly cited barriers to offering a placement included a lack of time (21%); not being a PsyBA supervisor (18%); being employed part-time (18%) and the concern that clinical supervision time did not attract funding under the current public health funding model (16%). Conclusion: The study provides an estimate of clinical field placement capacity in NSW. The results suggest that the capacity in the existing clinical psychology workforce could meet clinical field placement demand. The authors discuss reasons why anecdotally, this does not appear to reflect the reality of field placement coordinators and students. The authors provide possible strategies for addressing the issues raised.
Nicholson Perry, K, Donovan, M, Knight, R & Shires, A 2017, 'Addressing Professional Competency Problems in Clinical Psychology Trainees', Australian Psychologist, vol. 52, no. 2, pp. 121-129.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Stevens, B, Hyde, J, Knight, R, Shires, A & Alexander, R 2017, 'Competency-based training and assessment in Australian postgraduate clinical psychology education', Clinical Psychologist, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 174-185.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Cartwright, C, Rhodes, P, King, R & Shires, A 2015, 'A Pilot Study of a Method for Teaching Clinical Psychology Trainees to Conceptualise and Manage Countertransference', Australian Psychologist, vol. 50, pp. 148-156.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
There is evidence that therapists' countertransference responses can affect the therapeutic relationship. There is also evidence that trainee
therapists can experience difficulty understanding and managing countertransference. This evidence suggests the need for greater focus on
countertransference in the training of professionals, such as psychologists, for whom therapy is a core activity. However, little is currently known
about the best way of providing such training or the impact of such training on recipients. This pilot study examined clinical psychology trainees'
responses to a teaching and learning method for conceptualising and managing countertransference. The method was designed to be
accessible to a range of psychology trainees including those in cognitive behavioural therapy programmes. This article outlines the method and
its pilot evaluation. An anonymous online questionnaire was completed by 55 trainees pre-intervention and 40 post-intervention. Qualitative
methods were used to examine changes in trainees' analyses of countertransference pre- and post-intervention, and their reports of understanding
and managing countertransference. Trainees also rated the intervention. The majority of participants who completed the postintervention
questionnaire reported that training increased awareness of or the ability to conceptualise countertransference. They reported
strategies for managing countertransference, although they were less confident in this area.
Gonsalvez, CJ, Deane, FP, Blackman, R, Matthias, M, Knight, R, Nasstasia, Y, Shires, A, Perry, KN, Allan, C & Bliokas, V 2015, 'The Hierarchical Clustering of Clinical Psychology Practicum Competencies: A Multisite Study of Supervisor Ratings', CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY-SCIENCE AND PRACTICE, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 390-403.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Cartwright, C, Rhodes, P, King, R & Shires, A 2014, 'Experiences of Countertransference: Reports of Clinical Psychology Students', Australian Psychologist, vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 232-240.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
While historically linked with psychoanalysis, countertransference is recognised as an important component of the experience of therapists, regardless of the therapeutic modality. This study considers the implications of this for the training of psychologists. Fifty-five clinical psychology trainees from four university training programmes completed an anonymous questionnaire that collected written reports of countertransference experiences, ratings of confidence in managing these responses, and supervision in this regard. The reports were analysed using a process of thematic analysis. Several themes emerged including a desire to protect or rescue clients, feeling criticised or controlled by clients, feeling helpless, and feeling disengaged. Trainees varied in their reports of awareness of countertransference and the regularity of supervision in this regard. The majority reported a lack of confidence in managing their responses, and all reported interest in learning about countertransference. The implications for reflective practice in postgraduate psychology training are discussed. © 2014 The Australian Psychological Society.
Gonsalvez, CJ, Bushnell, J, Blackman, R, Deane, F, Bliokas, V, Nicholson-Perry, K, Shires, A, Nasstasia, Y, Allan, C & Knight, R 2013, 'Assessment of Psychology Competencies in Field Placements: Standardized Vignettes Reduce Rater Bias', TRAINING AND EDUCATION IN PROFESSIONAL PSYCHOLOGY, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 99-111.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Bushnell, CJ, Gonsalvez, CG, Blackman, R, Dean, F, Bliokas, V, Nicholson-Perry, K, Shires, AG, Nasstasia, Y, Allan, C & Knight, R 2013, 'Assessing ourselves: Is the assessment of performance in Clinical Psychology field placements due to biased raters or defective rating instruments', Journal of the New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 4-11.
In common with the training for many health professions, there are serious weaknesses in normal practices for assessing the performance of clinical psychology students in field placements, and these are evident in the field placement data captured from five NSW postgraduate clinical psychology courses. Iterative improvements in assessment forms, including the introduction of electronic data capture, and a criterion-referenced basis for decisions about competence within a developmental framework applied to agreed domains were found to do little to reduce the evident leniency and halo bias in supervisor ratings. Whilst not totally devoid of value (the field placement ratings do show credible improvement between mid-placement and end-placement), the supervisors' ratings of student performance at end of placement show uniform reluctance to describe a student as 'unsatisfactory' or 'needs development'. The implications of this finding are discussed with particular reference to patient safety and professional responsibility.
Shires, A & Miller, D 1998, 'A preliminary study comparing psychological factors associated with erectile dysfunction in heterosexual and homosexual men', Sexual and Marital Therapy, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 37-49.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This study examined whether a group of homosexual men experiencing erectile difficulties showed differences from heterosexual men with the same clinical presentations in a number of affective and cognitive variables associated with erectile difficulties. In particular it was hypothesized that homosexual participants would present with a different set of cognitions surrounding the erectile dysfunction (and would be less affected by performance anxiety, a construct shown to be a significant variable in the aetiology of erectile dysfunction in heterosexual couples). Results drawn from standarized and purpose-designed questionnaires indicated that heterosexual men in the participant group were significantly more likely to be affected by performance anxiety, and showed higher levels of general anxiety, depression and lower levels of self-esteem than their homosexual counterparts. The homosexual group was found to be more affected by a number of cognitive variables including HIV anxiety, internalized homophobia, and intimacy issues. Findings fit with the model of erectile dysfunction proposed by Barlow, in which cognitive interference in the form of specific cognitive beliefs and schemata have an impact on sexual arousal when combined with anxiety about the consequences of erectile loss.
Gonslalvez, C & Gooi, C 2018, 'Innovations in competence assessment: The Vignette-Matching Assessment Tool – design and standardization', Global Issues and Trends in Psychology Training. International Congress of Psychology Training Clinics. Annual Meeting of the Association of Psychology Training Clinics (APTC), Maui, Hawaii.
Shires, AG, Gooi, C & Gonsalvez, C 2018, 'Innovations in competence assessment: The Vignette-Matching Assessment Tool – Empirical validation.', Global Issues and Trends in Psychology Training. International Congress of Psychology Training Clinics. Annual Meeting of the Association of Psychology Training Clinics (APTC) Maui, Maui, Hawaii,.
Shires, AG, Cayoun, B, Franics, S & Grabovac, A 2018, 'Symposium title: Mindfulness-integrated Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: A Transdiagnostic Approach and its Benefits in Addressing Crisis and Chronicity, and Preventing relapse', International conference on mindfulneess, Amsterdam.
Shires, AG 2018, ': A comparison of the efficacy of mindfulness-based interoceptive exposure and distraction in the management of chronic pain', Internatinal Mindfulness conference, Amsterdam.
Shires, AG 2018, 'Introducation to Mindfulness for ADHD', Australian ADHD Professionals Association 2nd Annual Conference, Novotel Sydney.
Cayoun, B, Simmons, A & Shires, A 2018, 'Chronic Pain Reduction Following a Brief Self-Implemented Mindfulness-Based Interoceptive Exposure Task: a Pilot Study.', International Symposium for Contemplative Research 2018, Phoenix USA.
Shires, AG, Sharpe, L & Newton John, T 2017, 'Comparison of brief mindfulness task with a distraction task in the reduction of induced pain.', 38th National Conference of the Australian Association for cognitve and behavioural therapy, Sydney, Australia.
Gonsalvez, C, Deane, F & Shires, AG 2017, 'Key findings from a multisite project on competence assessment.', Clinical Psychology Course Directors Forum, Bisbane.
Shires, AG, *Gonsalvez, C, Blackman, R & knight, R 2017, 'Assessment of Practicum competencies in Clinical Psychology: Key findings and Future Directions', Australian and New Zealand Psychology Training Clinic Directors Conference, Sydney.
Cayoun, B & Simmons, A 2016, 'The power of equanimity for Pain reduction', Mind and its potential Conference., Sydney.
Shires, AG, Cayoun, B & Simmons, A 2016, 'Unlearning chronic pain with equanimity: Immediate and lasting pain reduction following a self-implemented mindfulness-based exposure task', 2nd International Conference on Mindfulness, International Conference on Mindfulness, Rome.
Recent imaging research shows that approximately 80% of people who transit from acute to chronic pain produce neuroplasticity linking pain pathways to learning areas of the brain, thus showing physiological evidence that chronic pain is largely learned. Mindfulness meditation programs have been used successfully to teach people a way of decreasing pain-related distress and unlearning their unhelpful relationship to pain. However, not all chronic pain patients are amenable to undergo a full mindfulness program and then maintain daily practice. Accordingly, we conducted a pilot study of a task extracted from a second-generation MBI, Mindfulness-integrated Cognitive Behavior Therapy, which consisted of a self-guided 30-s mindfulness-based interoceptive exposure task (MIET) to pain sensations in 15 medically diagnosed chronic pain patients. Participants using the MIET repeatedly over 15 days learned not to identify with pain and focused on four subcomponents of interoception (mass, motion, temperature, and cohesiveness) while remaining equanimous. This led to significant reduction in pain anxiety (p = .001; d = 0.96), pain duration (p = .01; d = 0.86), and pain intensity after each 30-s exposure (p < .001; d = 1.37). These effects were maintained, and some further improved, at 2-month follow-up. Marked decrease in depression, anxiety and stress were also observed (p < .001; d = 0.81). While participants rated the task as highly acceptable and some reduced their use of analgesic medication; no other change in medical or psychological treatment was required. These early results show the potential for the MIET to be use as an adjunct to traditional treatments of chronic pain, although controlled studies are needed to establish the validity of our results. Brain-imaging studies are also needed to assess the possible unlearning effect of the MIET on corticolimbic regions, a process that may be termed 'central desensitization.'
Shires, AG, Sharpe, L & Newton John, T 2016, 'Comparison of a mindfulness based exposure task with a distraction task in the reduction of induced pain with an additional moderator of attentional bias.', 2nd International Conference on Mindfulness, International Conference on Mindfulness, Rome.
Gonsalvez, C, Nasstasia, Y & Donovan, M 2016, '. Innovations in the assessment of practicum competencies: The use of standardised vignettes', 12th International Interdisciplinary Clinical Supervision Conference. 2016, USA.
Gonsalvez, C, Allen, CD, Nicholson Perry, K, Blackman, R, Webster, R, Hyde, J & Nasstasia, Y 2011, 'A multi-site study on the assessment of clinical psychology competencies by field supervisors: Should vignettes replace rating scales?.', USA: Adelphi University., Seventh International Interdisciplinary Conference on Clinical Supervision.
Gonslavez, C, Bushnell, J, Shires, A, Deane, F, Bliokas, V & Nicholson-perry, K 2011, 'The use of vignettes to capture clinical psychology practicum competencies: vignette standardization and preliminary results.', Proceedings of The Australian Technology Network Assessment Conference. Australia: ATN., Australia 2011.
Shires, AG 2016, Barriers to Clinical Psychology Supervision 2015 A report on the barriers to provision of clinical psychology supervision to trainees on placement in NSW.
Gonslavez, C & Bushnell, J 2012, The Vignette-Matching Procedue: An innovative approach to assess competencies in psychology clinical practicum.
Shires, AG 2018, 'Introduction to MiCBT and the MIET:The Development and Application of Equanimity.'.
Shires, A. Introduction to MiCBT and the MIET:The Development and Application of Equanimity. The Center for Mindfulness and Compassion, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School, Boston.
Neukirch, N & Shires, A 2018, 'Yoga for PTSD and the Role of Interoceptive Awareness: A Preliminary Mixed-Methods Case Series Study'.
International Childhood Trauma Conference.
Shires, AG 2018, 'Mindfulness and ADHD.'.
2nd Annual Conference Australian ADHD Professionals Association Sydney Australia.
Cayoun, B, Shires, A, Francis, S & Grabovic, A 2018, 'Symposium title: Mindfulness-integrated Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: A Transdiagnostic Approach and its Benefits in Addressing Crisis and Chronicity, and Preventing relapse. lnternational Mindfulness conference. Amsterdam, Holland. July 2018'.
lnternational Mindfulness conference. Amsterdam, Holland. July 2018
Shires, AG 2018, 'A comparison of the efficacy of mindfulness-based interoceptive exposure and distraction in the management of chronic pain'.
lnternational Mindfulness conference. Amsterdam
Shires, AG 2017, 'How can I make the most out of clinical supervision?'.
Presentation on Clinical Supervision to University of Sydney Gambling journal group.
Shires, AG 2017, 'University based Psychology Clinic models'.
Presentation to the AAPTC.
Shires, AG 2016, 'The application of Mindfulness in pain.'.
Shires, AG 2016, 'Barriers to the provision of clinical psychology supervised placements.'.
Presentation to the Australian clinical placement coordinators meeting
Shires, AG 2015, 'Using standardised vignettes to assess practicum competencies in psychology and other disciplines.'.
The Mindfulness integrated CBT Institute http://www.mindfulness.net.au