Patricia O'Rourke

Patricia O'Rourke

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Dr Patricia O'Rourke is a child psychotherapist with special interest in Infant Mental Health, Child Protection and Reflective Supervision. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Paediatric Mental Health Training Unit and a member of the Critical and Ethical Mental Health (CEMH) research group within the Robinson Research Institute.

Project: The Maternal Looking Guide: Evaluating the rollout of the Maternal Looking Guide (MLG) across Child and Family Health Services, South Australia

Project Description 

The MLG aims to identify and address a real-world problem – that mothers and babies can miss one another when they first meet in that precious time post birth. A mounting body of evidence (Moore et al. 2017) shows that experiences in the first 1000 days, from conception until the end of the second year, impact all aspects of development and functioning over the life course – physical health and wellbeing, mental health, social functioning and cognitive development. The relational environment of the baby is a critical factor.

The Maternal Looking Guide (MLG) is a clinical tool with demonstrated reliability (O’Rourke 2021) that can be used for early assessment and decision-making about the mother-infant relationship. By identifying those dyads who will benefit from immediate increased support,  The MLG assists midwives and other perinatal professionals to sensitively respond at this critical developmental juncture for baby and mother.

The MLG and training package has been evaluated in three international sites, and will be rolled out across the Child and Family Health Service, South Australia from August 2022. The intention for this project is to design and implement an evaluation with special attention to take-up, adherence and fidelity, and understanding the barriers to and enablers of the rollout in order to identify markers for improvement.

Identification of possible relational difficulties in the perinatal period increases the likelihood of early support being provided to the mother-infant relationship. It also assists organisations to allocate scarce resources to those who most need them. The MLG translates the well-established knowledge of the importance of gaze in early relationship into evidence-based behaviours, validates what to date has been clinical intuition, and enables appropriate intervention.

There is no scholarship attached to the project. 

Projects available for: HDR / Masters / Mphil

Location: Child and Family Services

Research project start:Semester 1 and 2

Special requirements: Police Clearance

  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2019 - ongoing Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2018 - ongoing Consultant Infant Mental Health Specialist / Reflective Practice Trainer Child and Family Health Service, Women's and Children's Health Network
    2002 - 2021 Consultant Child Psychotherapist Women's and Children's Hospital
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2010 - 2017 University of Adelaide Australia PhD
    1989 - 1991 Massey University New Zealand Masters of Guidance and Counselling
    1971 - 1973 Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand Bachelor of Arts
  • Postgraduate Training

    Date Title Institution Country
    Graduate Diploma Infant Mental Health New South Wales Institute of Psychiatry Australia
    Diploma in Teaching Karori Teacher Training College New Zealand
  • Certifications

    Date Title Institution name Country
    2016 Educator Australia and New Zealand Psychodrama Association Inc., -
    2006 Psychodramatist Australia and New Zealand Psychodrama Association Inc. -
    1975 Trained Teacher Certificate Karori Teachers College New Zealand
  • Research Interests

  • Journals

    Year Citation
    2022 O'Rourke, P., Jureidini, J., & BenTovim, D. (2022). The development of the Maternal Looking Guide: a perinatal clinical tool to understand and support the emerging mother-infant relationship. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology.
    2021 O’Rourke, P., Jureidini, J., & Ben-Tovim, D. (2021). The Maternal Looking Guide: a perinatal clinical tool to support the emerging mother-infant relationship’. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 41(3), 1-18.
    2020 O'Rourke, P. (2020). Working therapeutically with infants in the child protection system: Reflections.. WAIMH Perspectives in Infant Mental Health, 28(2), 7-13.
    2011 O'Rourke, P. (2011). The significance of reflective supervision for infant mental health work. Infant Mental Health Journal, 32(2), 165-173.
    DOI Scopus34
  • Book Chapters

    Year Citation
    2017 O'Rourke, P., Kaufman, J. C., Feist, G. J., & Reiter-Palmon, R. (2017). Creativity and personality research: Themes and future directions. In G. J. Feist, R. Reiter-Palmon, & J. C. Kaufman (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity and Personality Research (pp. 405-413). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
  • Consulting/Advisories

    Date Institution Department Organisation Type Country
    2019 - 2021 Women's and Children's Health Network Child and familiy Health Service Health services and related Australia
  • Editorial Boards

    Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country
    2019 - ongoing Associate Editor Perspectives in Infant Mental Health World Association of Infant Mental Health Finland
  • Offices Held

    Date Office Name Institution Country
    2021 - ongoing Trainer Psychodrama Australia Brisbane Campus Australia

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