Alyssa Sawyer

Dr Alyssa Sawyer

Lecturer

School of Psychology

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences


I am a Lecturer in the School of Psychology and Registered Psychologist (endorsed by the Psychology Board of Australia as a Clinical Psychologist). I have previously worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Research and Evaluation Unit of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and with the BetterStart Child Health and Development Research Group within the School of Public Health.

My research focuses on children’s development and mental health, postnatal mental health and support for new parents, and epidemiology. In particular, my research has focused on children’s mental health and wellbeing with particular emphasis on the development, implementation and evaluation of new clinical and population level interventions in partnership with health, education, and welfare services. I have an interest in using population data from longitudinal cohorts and surveys, and population-level interventions designed to improve outcomes for children. Of particular interest is the development of self-regulation and how this affects children’s later outcomes.

Alyssa is interested in providing supervision for students who wish to focus their research on the mental health of children, adolescents, or families. Alyssa works with population level datasets including the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (https://growingupinaustralia.gov.au/) and the Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (https://youngmindsmatter.telethonkids.org.au/about-young-minds-matter/ ). Opportunities exist for research projects using these population level datasets for students interested in statistical analyses and epidemiological research methods. Projects will be co-supervised by Emeritus Professor Michael Sawyer.

Research interests

  • Child mental health and development
  • Supports for parents during the postnatal period (particularly for mothers experiencing postnatal depression and for new fathers)
  • Epidemiology and population health
  • The development of self-regulation in childhood: effects on children's later outcomes.
  • The effectiveness of online interventions for postnatal depression

Potential projects for Psychology Honours and Masters of Psychology:

Projects available to be co-supervised by Dr Rachel Roberts (School of Psychology):

Can the WPPSI-IV be administered using telehealth; What is possible?

The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence- IV (WPPSI-IV) is the most commonly used measure by clinical psychologists in Australia to assess the intellectual functioning of 2 to 7 year old children. The COVID-19 pandemic initiated work to understand the feasibility of using telehealth for assessments for adults and older children. However, we are unaware of any work to understand how the WPPSI-IV could be administered using telehealth. Given the importance of understanding young children’s intellectual abilities for clinical psychologists, and the likely ongoing need for telehealth both due to the pandemic and often unmet needs of rural and remote families, we aim to explore how the WPPSI-IV could be administered using telehealth.

This project will pilot the telehealth-based administration with parents supporting the assessment, to understand which subtests are feasible to be administered in this way, including what training parents would need to undertake this role.

Projects available to be co-supervised by Dr Amanda Taylor (School of Psychology):

Service support and use of services for new parents.

The postnatal period is a time of increased stress for new parents, and a critical time for healthy infant development. Over the past 30 years several nurse home visit programs have been developed to support mothers in adapting to this new role and to support infant development. Less work has investigated supports for new fathers during the postnatal period, and there has been increasing interest in supporting mental health difficulties and adaptation to the parenting role for fathers during this time.

The aim of this study would be to conduct a pilot study to explore the experience of fathers during the postnatal period in relation to service supports. In particular, we are interested in understanding father’s experience of services for new parents, areas of unmet service support, and barriers in being able to do access existing supports.

Projects available with Dr Pedro Henrique Ribeiro Santiago (School of Public Health, Adelaide Dental School):

Dr Santiago works with a number of longitudinal datasets including the South Australian Aboriginal Birth Cohort (SAABC) study, from which projects such as the following are available:

1. Cultural identity and experiences of racism and discrimination in a large Aboriginal sample

2. The effect of racism and discrimination on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander's mental health

    Expand
  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2019 Lecturer School of Psychology, University of Adelaide
    2017 - 2019 Postdoctoral researcher Research and Evaluation Unit of the Women's and Children's Hospital; School of Medicine, University of Adelaide
    2012 - 2017 Postdoctoral researcher School of Public Health, University of Adelaide
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2008 - 2012 Flinders University Australia PhD (Clin Psyc)
    2007 - 2007 Flinders University Australia BA Hons (Psychology)
    2006 - 2006 Flinders University Australia Grad Dip Psyc
    2003 - 2005 Flinders University Australia BCA (Creative Writing)
  • Certifications

    Date Title Institution name Country
    2014 Clinical Psychology Area of Practice Endorsement Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency Australia
    2011 Registered Psychologist Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency Australia
  • Research Interests

    Expand
  • Journals

    Year Citation
    2021 Paparo, J., Beccaria, G., Canoy, D., Chur-Hansen, A., Conti, J. E., Correia, H., . . . Thielking, M. (2021). A New Reality: The Role of Simulated Learning Activities in Postgraduate Psychology Training Programs. Frontiers in Education, 6.
    DOI
    2019 Sawyer, A. C. P., Kaim, A. L. E., Mittinity, M., Jeffs, D., Lynch, J. W., & Sawyer, M. G. (2019). Effectiveness of a 2-year post-natal nurse home-visiting programme when children are aged 5 years: results from a natural experiment. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 55(9), 1091-1098.
    DOI Scopus2 WoS1 Europe PMC1
    2019 Sawyer, A. C. P., Kaim, A. L., Reece, C. E., McDonald, D., Le, H. N., Clark, J., . . . Sawyer, M. G. (2019). Evaluating the effectiveness of an app-based nurse-moderated program for new mothers with depression and parenting problems (EMUMS Plus): Protocol for a pragmatic randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(1), e11549.
    DOI Scopus2 Europe PMC1
    2019 Sawyer, A., Kaim, A., Le, H. N., McDonald, D., Mittinty, M., Lynch, J., & Sawyer, M. (2019). The effectiveness of an app-based nurse-moderated program for new mothers with depression and parenting problems (eMums Plus): pragmatic randomized controlled trial. Journal of medical Internet research, 21(6), e13689-1-e13689-14.
    DOI Scopus13 WoS11 Europe PMC5
    2019 Sawyer, M. G., Reece, C. E., Sawyer, A. C., Hiscock, H., & Lawrence, D. (2019). Adequacy of treatment for child and adolescent mental disorders in Australia: a national study. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 53(4), 326-335.
    DOI Scopus12 WoS11 Europe PMC2
    2018 Smithers, L., Sawyer, A., Chittleborough, C., Davies, N., Davey Smith, G., & Lynch, J. (2018). A systematic review and meta-analysis of effects of early life non-cognitive skills on academic, psychosocial, cognitive and health outcomes. Nature Human Behaviour, 2(11), 867-880.
    DOI Scopus32 WoS30 Europe PMC14
    2018 Sawyer, M., Reece, C., Sawyer, A., Johnson, S., Hiscock, H., & Lawrence, D. (2018). Access to health professionals by children and adolescents with mental disorders: Are we meeting their needs?. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 52(10), 972-982.
    DOI Scopus6 WoS5 Europe PMC3
    2018 Sawyer, M., Reece, C., Sawyer, A., Johnson, S., & Lawrence, D. (2018). Has the Prevalence of Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders in Australia Changed Between 1998 and 2013 to 2014?. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 57(5), 343-350.
    DOI Scopus29 WoS28 Europe PMC12
    2017 Sawyer, M., Reece, C., Bowering, K., Jeffs, D., Sawyer, A., Mittinty, M., & Lynch, J. (2017). Nurse-moderated internet-based support for new mothers: non-inferiority, randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 19(7), e258-1-e258-14.
    DOI Scopus7 WoS6 Europe PMC5
    2017 Sawyer, M., Reece, C., Sawyer, A., Johnson, S., Lawrence, D., & Zubrick, S. (2017). The prevalence of stimulant and antidepressant use by Australian children and adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder: a national survey. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 27(2), 177-184.
    DOI Scopus7 WoS7 Europe PMC3
    2016 Sawyer, M., Reece, C., Bowering, K., Jeffs, D., Sawyer, A., Peters, J., . . . Lynch, J. (2016). Usage, adherence and attrition: how new mothers engage with a nurse-moderated web-based intervention to support maternal and infant health. A 9-month observational study. BMJ Open, 6(8), e009967-1-e009967-11.
    DOI Scopus7 WoS6 Europe PMC5
    2016 Pearce, A., Sawyer, A., Chittleborough, C., Mittinty, M., Law, C., & Lynch, J. (2016). Do early life cognitive ability and self-regulation skills explain socio-economic inequalities in academic achievement? An effect decomposition analysis in UK and Australian cohorts. Social Science and Medicine, 165(-), 108-118.
    DOI Scopus13 WoS13 Europe PMC7
    2015 Sawyer, A., Miller-Lewis, L., Searle, A., Sawyer, M., & Lynch, J. (2015). Is greater improvement in early self-regulation associated with fewer behavioral problems later in childhood?. Developmental Psychology, 51(12), 1740-1755.
    DOI Scopus20 WoS23 Europe PMC9
    2015 Sawyer, M., Erskine, H., Sawyer, A., Morrissey, M., & Lynch, J. (2015). Childhood mental disorders: a forgotten problem?. The Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry, 49(9), 774-775.
    DOI
    2015 Sawyer, A., Chittleborough, C., Mittinty, M., Miller-Lewis, L., Sawyer, M., Sullivan, T., & Lynch, J. (2015). Are trajectories of self-regulation abilities from ages 2-3 to 6-7 associated with academic achievement in the early school years?. Child: Care, Health and Development, 41(5), 744-754.
    DOI Scopus27 WoS26 Europe PMC10
    2014 Miller-Lewis, L., Sawyer, A., Searle, A., Mittinty, M., Sawyer, M., & Lynch, J. (2014). Student-teacher relationship trajectories and mental health problems in young children. BMC Psychology, 2(1), 27-1-27-18.
    DOI Europe PMC8
    2014 Sawyer, A., Chittleborough, C., Lynch, J., Baghurst, P., Mittinty, N., Kaim, A., & Sawyer, M. (2014). Can screening 4-5 year olds accurately identify children who will have teacher-reported mental health problems when children are ages 6-7 years?. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 48(6), 554-563.
    DOI Scopus6 WoS5 Europe PMC4
    2014 Sawyer, A., Williamson, P., & Young, R. (2014). Metacognitive processes in emotion recognition: are they different in adults with Asperger's Disorder?. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(6), 1373-1382.
    DOI Scopus15 Europe PMC10
    2014 Miller-Lewis, L., Sawyer, A., Searle, A., & Sawyer, M. (2014). Child and family predictors of child-teacher relationship trajectories during the transition from preschool to school. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 4(3), 235-243.
    DOI
    2014 Gialamas, A., Sawyer, A., Mittinty, M., Zubrick, S., Sawyer, M., & Lynch, J. (2014). Quality of childcare influences children's attentiveness and emotional regulation at school entry. Journal of Pediatrics, 165(4), 813-819.e3.
    DOI Scopus13 WoS11 Europe PMC3
    2014 Sawyer, A., Lynch, J., Bowering, K., Jeffs, D., Clark, J., Mpundu-Kaambwa, C., & Sawyer, M. (2014). An equivalence evaluation of a nurse-moderated group-based internet support program for new mothers versus standard care: a pragmatic preference randomised controlled trial. BMC Pediatrics, 14(1), 119-1-119-8.
    DOI Scopus5 WoS5 Europe PMC4
    2014 Sawyer, M., Pfeiffer, S., Sawyer, A., Bowering, K., Jeffs, D., & Lynch, J. (2014). Effectiveness of nurse home visiting for families in rural South Australia. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 50(12), 1013-1022.
    DOI Scopus8 WoS8 Europe PMC4
    2014 Sawyer, A. C. P., Williamson, P., & Young, R. L. (2014). Can Gaze Avoidance Explain Why Individuals with Asperger's Syndrome Can't Recognise Emotions From Facial Expressions? (vol 42, pg 606, 2012). JOURNAL OF AUTISM AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS, 44(10), 2669.
    DOI
    2012 Sawyer, M., Sawyer, A., & La Greca, A. (2012). Help-seeking by young people with depressive disorders. The Prevention Researcher, 19(4), 11-14.
    2012 Sawyer, A., Williamson, P., & Young, R. (2012). Can gaze avoidance explain why individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome can’t recognise emotions from facial expressions?. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42(4), 606-618.
    DOI Scopus34 WoS33 Europe PMC19
    2009 Sawyer, A. C. P., Clark, C. R., Keage, H. A. D., Moores, K. A., Clarke, S., Kohn, M. R., & Gordon, E. (2009). Cognitive and electroencephalographic disturbances in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and sleep problems: New insights. Psychiatry Research, 170(2-3), 183-191.
    DOI Scopus14 WoS10 Europe PMC7
    Sawyer, A. C. P., Kaim, A. L., Reece, C. E., McDonald, D., Le, H. -N., Clark, J., . . . Sawyer, M. G. (n.d.). Evaluating the Effectiveness of an App-Based Nurse-Moderated Program for New Mothers With Depression and Parenting Problems (eMums Plus): Protocol for a Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial (Preprint).
    DOI
    Sawyer, A., Kaim, A., Le, H. -N., McDonald, D., Mittinty, M., Lynch, J., & Sawyer, M. (n.d.). The Effectiveness of an App-Based Nurse-Moderated Program for New Mothers With Depression and Parenting Problems (eMums Plus): Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial (Preprint).
    DOI
  • Conference Papers

    Year Citation
    2018 Sawyer, A., Lynch, J., McDonald, D., Jeffs, D., Reece, C., Clark, J., & Sawyer, M. (2018). eMums Plus: Supporting mothers with mild-moderate depression and parenting problems. In AUSTRALIAN PSYCHOLOGIST Vol. 53 (pp. 53). WILEY.
  • Conference Items

    Year Citation
    2015 Pearce, A., Sawyer, A., Chittleborough, C. R., Mittinty, N. M., & Lynch, J. (2015). Relative contributions of early-life cognitive ability and self-regulation in mediating social inequalities in academic ability: effect decomposition in contemporary UK and Australian cohorts. Poster session presented at the meeting of Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies International Conference. Dublin.
    2012 Sawyer, A., Chittleborough, C. R., Mittinty, N. M., Sawyer, M., & Lynch, J. (2012). The importance of children’s development of self-regulation in early life for later school readiness and academic achievement. Poster session presented at the meeting of The 11th Australian Conference for Personality and Individual Differences. Melbourne.
    2012 Sawyer, A., Chittleborough, C. R., Lawlor, D., Sawyer, M., Mittinty, N. M., & Lynch, J. (2012). The role of attention and emotion regulation in school readiness and school performance. Poster session presented at the meeting of Population Health Congress. Adelaide.
  • Report for External Bodies

    Year Citation
    2015 Sawyer, M. G., Mpundu-Kaambwa, C., Sawyer, A., Clark, J., & Lynch, J. (2015). Results from a Pilot Trial Assessing a new Child and Family Health Service (CaFHS) Clinical Support Measure. School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia; the Research and Evaluation Unit, Women’s and Children’s Health Network, Adelaide..
    2014 Sawyer, A., Gialamas, A., Pearce, A., Sawyer, M., & Lynch, J. (2014). A Supporting Systems Framework for Child Health and Development, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide.

Competitive grants:

2019-2021      

Do, L. G., Sawyer, A., Jones, A., Ha, D. H., Leary, S., Spencer, A. J. Early exposure to fluoridated water and child psychological and intellectual development. National Health and Medical Research Council – Project Grant, $828,756

2016               

Sawyer, M., Lynch, J., Sawyer, A., Sved Williams, A., & Briggs, N. A randomised controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness of a nurse-moderated group-based internet support program for mothers with comorbid mild to moderate depression and parenting problems. Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation, $75,000.

2014      

Sawyer, M., Bowering, K., Jeffs, D., Lynch, J., Sawyer, A. Does nurse home-visiting improve the longer term health and wellbeing of mothers and children? Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation, $58,062.

2013 - 2016    

Lynch, J., Chittleborough, C., Smithers, L., Sawyer, M., Brinkman, S., Mittinty, M., Sawyer, A., Bowering, K. Child health and development: a South Australian data linkage study. National Health and Medical Research Council – Partnership Project. ($273,131 NHMRC), ($180,000 partners)

2013               

Sawyer, M., Bowering, K., Jeffs, D., Lynch, J., Sawyer, A. Does nurse home-visiting improve the longer term health and wellbeing of mothers and children? Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation, $72,355.

Other grants:

2015               

Australian Federation of University Women South Australian Postdoctoral Grant. Awarded on merit for completion of research project, $5000.

2014               

Healthy Development Adelaide Travel Grant. Awarded to attend and present at the 8th World Congress on Promoting Mental Health (London, September, 2014), $1000

2013-2017      

Marshall, H., Richmond, P., Booy, R., Wood, N., Blythe, C., Nissen, M., Crawford, N., Buttery, J., Haji Ali Afzali, H., Sawyer, M., Barton, B., Sawyer, A., Wang, B., Clarke, M. The Long-term Impact of Serogroup B Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD) in Australian Adolescents and Young Adults: 2012 – 2016.  AMEND study. Pfizer, $891,000.

Lecturing and course coordination:

2020-onwards       Coordinator, Psychological Assessment (Master of Psychology (Clinical), University of          Adelaide).

2018, 2020-onwards       Placement Coordinator (Master of Psychology (Clinical), University of Adelaide).

2018                Coordinator, Abnormal Psychology (Master of Psychology (Clinical), University of Adelaide).

2014 - 2016     Public Health 1A (Bachelor of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide).

2014 - 2018     Communication for Health Sciences (Bachelor of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide).

 

Tutoring:

 

2014-2015       Public Health 1B (Bachelor of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide) – mentor for Small Group Discovery Experience.

2014                Public Health 1A (Bachelor of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide).

    Expand
  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2021 Co-Supervisor Interventions for disrupted attachment styles in adults with BPD, and the effects on infant attachment Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr David Rimmington
    2021 Co-Supervisor Nature Play? No way! An investigation of preventative factors impacting on child engagement in nature play. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Madison Skye Bellchambers
    2021 Co-Supervisor Exploring postnatal experiences, wellbeing and support needs of South Asian refugee and migrant families in Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Ria Aiyar
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2021 - 2021 Co-Supervisor Does Taking Parental Leave Improve Mental Health and parenting sense of competence in New Fathers? The University of Adelaide Honours in Psychology Honours Thomas Parkin
    2021 - 2021 Principal Supervisor The association between depression in adolescence and academic achievement. The University of Adelaide Honours in Psychology Honours Ellen Gecz
    2021 - 2021 Co-Supervisor Does emotional dysregulation at early childhood predict the risk of disordered eating in Adolescence? The University of Adelaide Honours in Psychology Honours Srivaasavi Sivasankar
    2021 - ongoing Co-Supervisor Preliminary evaluation of a school-based programs for children with anxiety. The University of Adelaide Master of Psychology (Clinical) Master Jane Cope
    2021 - ongoing Principal Supervisor Telehealth validation of the WAIS IV (full scale IQ score). The University of Adelaide Master of Psychology (Clinical) Master Vanessa Bartholomaeus
    2021 - ongoing Principal Supervisor Telehealth validation of the WAIS IV (Perceptual Reasoning and Processing Speed Index scorex). The University of Adelaide Master of Psychology (Clinical) Master Nicholas Chronowski
    2021 - ongoing Principal Supervisor Evaluating psychosocial guidelines for care of infants and children in ICU after suspected child abuse or maltreatment. The University of Adelaide Master of Psychology (Clinical) Master Victoria Rivis
    2020 - 2021 Co-Supervisor A longitudinal examination of the relationship between Aboriginal mothers’ experiences of racism and children’s mental health. Primary supervisor The University of Adelaide Master of Psychology (Clinical) Master Gemma Synder
    2020 - 2021 Co-Supervisor What factors at age 10-11 are predictive of eating disorder symptoms in adolescence? Testing the transdiagnostic theory of eating disorders in adolescents using longitudinal data. The University of Adelaide Master of Psychology (Clinical) Master Kiu Lam Chan
    2019 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Mental Health Problems and Academic Failure: A Worry for Adolescents. The University of Adelaide Honours in Psychology Honours Jane Cope
    2019 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Parenting as a predictor of child development: The association between maternal parenting styles in childhood and adolescent emotional and behavioural problems. The University of Adelaide Honours in Psychology Honours Monique Girardo
    2019 - 2019 Co-Supervisor The Subjective Experiences of Mothers with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Who Have Completed Mother-Infant Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (MI-DBT). The University of Adelaide Honours in Psychology Honours Jaimee Francis
    2018 - 2018 Principal Supervisor The Effect of Parental Self-Efficacy on the Behaviour of Infants, Whose Mothers present with Depressive Symptoms. The University of Adelaide Honours in Psychology Honours Carley Davies
    2014 - 2015 Co-Supervisor The role of parental conflict in children’s mental health problems. The University of Adelaide, Research and Evaluation Unit, WCHN Master of Psychology (Clinical) Master Jo Carbone
    2013 - 2014 Co-Supervisor The role of attention in mental health problems. The University of Adelaide Master of Psychology (Clinical) Master Sharni Searle
    Expand
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2014 - ongoing Member Member of The Australian Psychological Society College of Clinical Psychologist Australia
    2013 - ongoing Member NHMRC Research Translation faculty Australia
    2013 - 2015 Member Early Career Researchers Committee, School of Population Health, Adelaide University.
    2012 - ongoing Member Healthy Kids Cluster Australia
    2011 - ongoing Member The Australian Psychological Society Australia
    2011 - ongoing Member Australian Association for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Australia
    2008 - ongoing Member Healthy Development Adelaide Australia
  • Position: Lecturer
  • Phone: 83133740
  • Email: alyssa.sawyer@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Hughes, floor 7
  • Room: 7 17
  • Org Unit: School of Psychology

Connect With Me
External Profiles