Toula holds degrees in arts, education and psychology and a Masters in Clinical Psychology. She has extensive professional experience as a clinical psychologist, teacher and guidance officer. Toula is now undertaking a PHD involving ancient, multicultural stories and images, their use in counselling and psychology, and their impact on modern day youth.
Toula is a Professional Member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS), a Member of the APS Clinical College, the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA), the Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network (ACATLGN) and the Young and Well CRC (Collaborative Research Centre).
Toula has worked in private practice and schools for twenty years, delivering important social, psychological, historical and cultural information to assist students with a range of short-term interventions and therapies.
Therapies include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Narrative and Interpersonal Therapy. Dissatisfied with the lack of evidence-based therapies and educational delivery methods available for children and youth, particularly those from multicultural backgrounds, Toula combined standardised therapies and information delivery methods to suit a younger age group. She utilises a narrative focus that incorporates the Indigenous art of story-telling to create Story Image Therapy (SIT)™.
A positive psychology advocate and positive futurist at heart, Toula has worked as a Guidance Officer Intensive Behaviour Support (GOIBS) for Education Queensland, Psychologist in Child and Youth Mental Health (CYMHS) and as a psychologist with the Consultation and Liaison Team at The Townsville Hospital. As a Guidance Officer Intensive Behaviour Support (GOIBS) Toula was responsible for case-managing the most challenging students in three of the largest state high schools on the Sunshine Coast … essentially the most challenging out of 6000 youth.
In her various roles, Toula has found that stories and images have had the greatest impact on the young people she has worked with, as well as with her own three teenage children. Concurrent to her doctoral studies, therefore, Toula has conducted preliminary research regarding the perceived effectiveness of stories and images to create sustainable behavioural change in children, youth and adults.
Toula has been quoted in numerous newspaper articles and regularly has her work published in academic and professional literature including Institute Inbrief (Australia’s largest electronic counselling and psychology magazine) and Exploring Teens Magazine (available at Dymocks). Toula is the author of two published books, numerous articles, peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed papers and is an International guest speaker. Toula is a pioneer in her field, continually striving to improve the mental health and behavioural issues of our youth.
Toula has conducted a lengthy study on the subject of enhancing resilience in Australian youth using technology. Toula asserts that it is vitally important to teach young people, and the adults who work and live with them, skills such as Learned Optimism, through stories and images, so that the young person can cope with the stresses associated with a changing world in order to flourish. As individuals learn and apply these skills regularly, research suggests that they are less likely to develop anxiety, depression, alcohol/ substance abuse disorder, self-harm, eating disorders and a plethora of other problems that Toula witnesses on a daily basis.
Lastly, Toula is the Clinical Director of Talk to Teens, a public-awareness company to encourage parents teachers and counsellors to talk to teens and pre-teens through stories and images. Toula and her colleagues regularly deliver training to a variety of organisations including Kuwnakan Palan Family Support Services (REFOCUS) and Integrated Family and Youth Services in the use of stories and images to assist teens and preteens. Toula is also in consultation with local members about ways to address this very important issue.