Renée graduated from the University of Queensland with first class Honours in Psychology in 1995. She moved to Melbourne to work as a probationary Psychologist in an Employee Assistance Program, during which time she continued with postgraduate study, and became fully registered as a Psychologist in 1999. Renée then established a private practice in antenatal and postnatal psychology, while pursuing her doctoral research in this area. She worked and trained at Relationships Australia as part of a clinical placement. Renée obtained her Doctor of Psychology (Counselling) from Swinburne University in 2007, and completed further studies in Clinical Psychology at Deakin University.
Renée's research was in the area of postnatal depression, anxiety and stress in first-time mothers. Whereas most of the literature had investigated postnatal depression in new mothers, Renée was interested in assessing the occurrence of anxiety and stress in this population. This interest was based on Renée's clinical observations that significant numbers of new mothers presented in her practice with high levels of anxiety and stress. Renée's findings pointed to the importance for practitioners to assess women for symptoms of postnatal anxiety and stress, which she demonstrated can occur independently of postnatal depression. Renée also assessed the associated relationship between cognitive factors and postnatal distress (e.g., need for control, perfectionism, fear of negative evaluation) and social factors (e.g., support, criticism from others, relationship factors), with interesting findings that have continued to inform her practice.
Renée's Honours thesis was in the area of workplace stress with a focus on conscientiousness as a personality trait in employees. She was awarded the Australian Psychological Society (APS) Prize for this thesis.
Renée has worked for over seventeen years exclusively with women and couples facing difficulties with respect to conception, pregnancy, birth, postnatal adjustment, and reproductive loss. With a busy practice in Caulfield North, Renée recognized the need for perinatal-specific psychology services in other Melbourne locations. Renée established the Antenatal and Postnatal Psychology Network, bringing together perinatal-specific psychologists from various locations around Melbourne. Renée's aim was to facilitate a high quality service that is accessible to individuals requiring support in the conception, antenatal and early parenting phases of life. In 2018, Renée established The Perinatal Loss Centre with colleagues in midwifery and bereaved parent advocacy. This centre provides training to health professionals and resources and support to bereaved parents.
As a Clinical Psychologist working exclusively with perinatal difficulties, Renée sees many women/couples with antenatal and postnatal depression, anxiety, and/or stress - with such disorders commonly occuring at this often vulnerable time. In addition, Renée sees women/couples who are undergoing fertility problems, or assisted fertility. Renée works with women/couples who have sadly lost babies through miscarriage or stillbirth, or who have received difficult diagnoses of fetal or neonatal anomalies. She also provides counselling support to women/couples who are dealing with issues surrounding termination. Renée assists women/couples prepare for childbirth, and deal with childbirth-related distress/trauma. As part of her work, Renée helps clients address pre-existing or parenthood-related self-esteem issues, family and relationship difficulties, and other life stressors that may occur or be triggered during the pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and postnatal periods. Underlying the work Renée does with new parents is the facilitation of attuned parent-child relationships.
Renée is a clinical advisor (psychology) to the Centre for Perinatal Excellence (COPE). She provides clinical consultation to staff and volunteers at Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA). Renée works closely with mother-baby Psychiatrists, and other perinatal health professionals (such as Obstetricians, Midwives, Maternal & Child Health Nurses, Geneticists, etc). Renée coordinates professional development activities for the Armadale Perinatal Mental Health Professionals Network (MHPN), and is a member of the Early Years Network (an initiative of Bentleigh Bayside Community Health and the Cities of Glen Eira, Bayside and Kingston in support of families in the early parenting years).
With a background in organizations, Renée works systemically with women and couples with respect to the impact of work-place stressors on family life, managing work-life balance, as well as returning to work issues that often come up for new mums. Similarly her training and experience as a couple's therapist is highly relevant to the couple relationship that may be affected by, or be affecting perinatal difficulties.
Approach to Therapy
Renée draws from a range of approaches depending on the specific needs of the client. Renée's research and experience in the perinatal field has contributed to a knowledge base of many common themes among new parents. However, Renée sees each client as a unique individual, who brings his/her own circumstances, past experiences, expectations, fears, difficulties and self-beliefs to therapy.
Renée works with clients to establish a clear understanding of the symptoms they are experiencing. This involves identifying the factors that have contributed to their distress, the current triggers for their distress, the conditions likely to maintain their distress, and the strengths and resources they may access in order to reduce their distress.
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a central component of the work Renée undertakes, which attends to the role of unhelpful thinking/beliefs in the manifestation of symptoms of distress, responses to stress, negative feelings and unwanted behaviours. Renée also assists clients in the exploration of the psychodynamics (i.e., early life experiences, family of origin factors) that may underlie current patterns of thinking and responding.
In addition to CBT, Renée draws from Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Family Therapy, and Positive Psychology, to work with clients to help them to adjust to the life changes/difficulties they are facing; to work through grief and loss; to manage their symptoms and negative responses; to find balance in their lives; to enhance their relationships and self-identities; to live a life that encompasses access to calmness and compassion; and to make decisions that align to their core values.
Registered with the Psychology Board of Australia (PBA)
Member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS)
Registered Circle of Security parent educator
Member of the APS Perinatal and Infant Psychology Interest Group (PIPIG)
Member of Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA)
Member of the Australasian and International Marcé Society
Member of Pregnancy Loss & Infant Death Alliance (PLIDA)
Co-founder of The Perinatal Loss Centre
Miller, R. Dubow, H., & Szego, K. (2018). Perinatal mental health: An area of specialty. O&G Magazine, 20, 15-17.
Miller, R.L., Pallant, J.F., & Negri, L.M. (2006). Anxiety and stress in the postpartum: Is there more to postnatal distress than depression?BMC Psychiatry, 6, 12.
Pallant, J. F., Miller, R.L., & Tennant, A. (2006). Evaluation of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale using Rasch Analysis.
BMC Psychiatry, 6, 28.
Miller, R.L., Griffin, M., & Hart, P. (1999). Personality and organisational health: The role of conscientiousness. Work and Stress, 13, 7-19.