Pioneer clinical psychologist honoured

A pioneer of cognitive behaviour therapy in Australia, clinical psychologist Dr Antony Kidman, has been honoured in this year's Australia Day awards.

The Director of the Health Psychology Unit in the UTS Faculty of Science has been made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for "service to health, particularly research into the psychosocial impact of diseases including breast cancer and as a clinical psychologist."
Dr Antony Kidman with members of the Health Psychology Unit team

The award recognises a career devoted to research and practice to improve the mental health of adolescents and cancer patients.

Dr Kidman joined UTS (then the NSW Institute of Technology) in 1971 following several years as a Visiting Fellow of the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington DC and following that at Monash University, where he had been working in the rapidly expanding field of neuroscience.

He continued his work on the central nervous system until the late 1970s when he took sabbatical leave to resume training in psychology in New York and at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

"In the early 1980s, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) was still little known in Australia, and over the past 20 years, I have promoted this therapeutic approach through my writings and seminars," Dr Kidman said.

The Health Psychology Unit (formerly the Neurobiology Unit) was established in 1973, and since 1983 has developed two principal strands, the research and treatment of depression and other mental disorders amongst cancer patients and more recently working with troubled teenagers and families to improve their emotional health.

The unit offers services to the community including a group therapy programs for students for dealing with HSC stress, another called, "Taking Charge" for students aged 15 to 18 and other programs for young people with severe problems and special needs.

Dr Kidman said there was still a huge stigma attached to mental health disorders and he welcomed any chance, like the receipt of the award, to challenge misconceptions about mental illness.

He has more than 140 publications, including eight books to his name and was the founder and first editor of "Clinical Psychologist", the journal of the Clinical College of the Australian Psychological Society.