Dr Rachael Murrihy obtained her Doctorate of Clinical Psychology from the University of Wollongong in 2006 and subsequently received the John Freestone Award for outstanding achievement in a clinical training program. Her doctoral dissertation focused on the delivery of training in cognitive behavioural therapy for general practitioners and psychiatric registrars. Since this time, Dr Murrihy has taken up a position as the Senior Clinical Psychologist and Research Associate at the Health Psychology Unit, an adolescent-focused unit, based at the University of Technology Sydney.
Dr Murrihy’s specialty is in the area of clinical adolescent psychology with a particular interest in youth aggression, conduct problems and bullying. As a practicing clinician, she works with youth experiencing both internalising and externalising disorders across a diverse range of settings, including the university clinic, private practice, inpatient wards, and in mainstream and alternative schools. She also lectures, trains, and supervises professionals in this field, including clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, family physicians, nurses, educators and interns.
Dr Murrihy has published research with an adolescent focus and presented this work at conferences both nationally and internationally. She has also edited a book, Clinical Handbook of Assessing and Treating Conduct Problems in Youth (Springer Publishing: New York, in press), in collaboration with Professor Thomas Ollendick and Dr Antony Kidman.
Membership of Professional Societies:
Member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS)
Member of APS College of Clinical Psychologists
Member of the Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies (U.S.)
Member of the Australian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies (AACBT)
Sydney AACBT Committee member
Full registration as a psychologist – Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
2006 John Freestone Award. Most Outstanding Student in Clinical
2001 Research Grant ($5,000) Pfizer Pharmaceuticals
Research Grant ($20,000) from Australian Psychological
Society, Illawarra Institute of Mental Health. Pfizer and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.
2002/3 Summer Scholarship University of Wollongong
2001/2 Summer Scholarship University of Wollongong
Perry, Y, Murrihy, RC, Varlow, M, Dedousis-Wallace, A, Ellis, DM, Langdon, R & Kidman, AD 2015, 'The development and implementation of a pilot CBT for early psychosis service: achievements and challenges.', Early intervention in psychiatry, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 252-259.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a clinically indicated treatment for first-episode psychosis. Despite this, CBT for early psychosis is not routinely available as part of standard mental health services in Australia. The aim of this pilot project was to develop a CBT for early psychosis service to be provided as an adjunct to existing community mental health services. This study examined the feasibility of this service model, delivered in a real-world setting. A secondary aim was to explore the effectiveness of this service, as measured by clinical and functional outcomes.Participants living in northern Sydney, Australia, and who had recently experienced a first episode of psychosis, were offered up to 20 sessions of individual CBT. Service feasibility was measured via attrition rates, therapy attendance and referrer feedback. Measures of psychosis, depression, anxiety and psychosocial functioning, were assessed pretreatment, after six and 12 sessions, and at 3 months post-treatment.Nineteen clients attended treatment to completion. Survey feedback from referrers affirmed the positive impact of the service on clients' recovery. Additionally, clients showed improvements in symptoms of psychosis over the first three time points. Psychosocial functioning also shifted from the moderately to mildly impaired range by the end of treatment.The CBT for early psychosis service has been successfully integrated into the mental health landscape of northern Sydney. Outcomes of this pilot project are discussed with reference to the achievements of the service, as well as the obstacles encountered, and how they were overcome.
Dedousis-Wallace, A, Shute, R, Varlow, M, Murrihy, R & Kidman, T 2014, 'Predictors of teacher intervention in indirect bullying at school and outcome of a professional development presentation for teachers', EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY, vol. 34, no. 7, pp. 862-875.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Wheatley, A, Murrihy, R, van Kessel, J, Wuthrich, V, Rémond, L, Tiqiri, R, Dadds, M & Kidman, A 2009, 'Aggression management training for youth in behaviour schools: A quasi-experimental study', Youth Studies Australia, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 29-36.
A 16-week, bi-weekly, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)-based aggression management training course was conducted with a limited sample of behavioural school students in New South Wales. Attendance, withdrawal and suspension rates over the training period were compared to those of a control period. Parent and teacher feedback, assessed at pre- and post-training, delivered preliminary information on disruptive behaviours and peer relations, Results revealed mixed findings with some improvements indisruptive behaviours, suspensions and withdrawals over the training period, Further research is needed to replicate these findings with a larger group of students.
Murrihy, RC, Byrne, M & Gonsalvez, C 2009, 'Testing an empirically derived mental health training model featuring small groups, distributed practice and patient discussion', Medical Education, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 140-145.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Internationally, family doctors seeking to enhance their skills in evidence-based mental health treatment are attending brief training workshops, despite clear evidence in the literature that short-term, massed formats are not likely to improve skills in this complex area. Reviews of the educational literature suggest that an optimal model of training would incorporate distributed practice techniques; repeated practice over a lengthy time period, small-group interactive learning, mentoring relationships, skills-based training and an ongoing discussion of actual patients. This study investigates the potential role of group-based training incorporating multiple aspects of good pedagogy for training doctors in basic competencies in brief cognitive behaviour therapy (BCBT). Six groups of family doctors (n = 32) completed eight 2-hour sessions of BCBT group training over a 6-month period. A baseline control design was utilised with pre- and post-training measures of doctors' BCBT skills, knowledge and engagement in BCBT treatment. Family doctors' knowledge, skills in and actual use of BCBT with patients improved significantly over the course of training compared with the control period. This research demonstrates preliminary support for the efficacy of an empirically derived group training model for family doctors. Brief CBT group-based training could prove to be an effective and viable model for future doctor training.
Varlow, M, Wuthrich, V, Murrihy, R, Rémond, L, Tuqiri, R, van Kessel, J, Wheatley, A, Dedousis-Wallace, A & Kidman, A 2009, 'Stress literacy in Australian adolescents', Youth Studies Australia, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 29-34.
Stress literacy is a term that refers to knowledge about stress and stress management techniques. Levels of stress literacy were examined in more than nine hundred Australian adolescents by providing a short stress-management education session and assessing stress literacy using a pre-post survey design. It was found that while adolescents had a reasonable knowledge of the symptoms of stress and effective stress management techniques, the likelihood of adolescents seeking help for stress or using these stress management techniques was low. The implications of these findings are discussed.
Murrihy, R & Byrne, MK 2005, 'Training models for psychiatry in primary care: a new frontier.', Australasian psychiatry : bulletin of Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 296-301.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Under policies implemented by the Australian Government, the success of community mental health care has increasingly relied upon general practitioners (GPs) assuming an enhanced role in the delivery of evidence-based psychological treatment. In undertaking this role, it is crucial that GPs significantly build upon limited training in evidence-based psychological therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). This pilot study investigates the potential role of CBT group supervision as a training model.Two groups of GPs (n = 9) and one comparison group of psychiatric registrars (n = 4) completed eight 1.5 h sessions of CBT group supervision over an 8 month period. Pre- to post-training measures were taken of GP performance (skills, knowledge and confidence) and the mental health outcomes of their patients. On the completion of group supervision, focus groups were conducted for in-depth feedback.Randomization tests indicated that GPs' confidence and knowledge in using CBT had improved over the course of group supervision. Results from focus groups confirmed that GPs' CBT skills had improved.Findings suggest that group supervision is a promising training model for psychiatry in primary care. Cognitive behaviour therapy should be replaced, however, with a briefer therapy model, such as brief CBT, better suited to a general practice environment. Future research needs to replicate these findings on a larger scale.
Boyle, GJ & Murrihy, R 2001, 'A preliminary study of hormone replacement therapy and psychological mood states in perimenopausal women', Psychological Reports, vol. 88, no. 1, pp. 160-170.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for perimenopausal women has been suggested to minimize the physical symptoms of menopause and improve mood and psychological functioning; however, the therapy remains controversial. In this study the effects of such therapy (comprising tablets, patches, and implants) on mood states was investigated within a sample of 70 perimenopausal women who were attending a family planning clinic within the Brisbane metropolitan area. On a battery of standardized questionnaires, including the General Health Questionnaire, the Profile of Mood States, the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, and the Menstrual Distress Questionnaire, those 35 women who were using hormone replacement therapy prescribed by the clinic physician reported significantly lower scores on anxiety, insomnia, and somatic symptoms than did a comparable group of 35 untreated perimenopausal women. These findings provide some tentative support for the beneficial effects of the therapy on physical symptoms and psychological mood states related to the onset of menopause. Given increased life expectancy, there is a growing need for research into issues of aging.
Murrihy, RC, Burns, JR, Reinke, WM, Herman, KC & King, KR 2017, 'Evidence-based assessment and intervention for oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder in school psychology' in Thielking, M & Terjesen, M (eds), Handbook of Australian School Psychology, Springer, Cham, pp. 331-347.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Disruptive behaviour disorders (DBD's) are highly prevalent childhood psychological disorders associated with pervasive impairment. They can affect the individual's social adjustment and educational achievement, disrupt family harmony, place strain on resource-limited learning environments, impact juvenile justice systems and challenge wider society. This chapter reviews, from an international perspective, the theoretical underpinnings of DBDs including diagnostic systems, aetiological factors and current controversies in the literature. Commonly used assessment measures are discussed for both universal and selective screening of at-risk school populations and individual assessment of indicated youth. This is followed by a synopsis of evidence-based interventions, which are considered the gold standard in treating youth with externalising disorders in schools. The chapter concludes with a case study illustrating some of the challenges associated with the implementation of these types of interventions.