Conference Outputs

The Romantic Self-Saboteur: How do people sabotage love?


There is a distinct lack of knowledge to explain why some people, having successfully initiated a relationship, embark upon a path to certain dissolution of that engagement. Research looking at self-sabotage provides some answers. However, no measure exists to test self-sabotage in romantic relationships. This study investigated key self-sabotaging behaviours implemented in romantic relationships towards developing the Relationship Self-Sabotage Scale.

What do psychologists have to say about self-sabotage in romantic relationships?

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The term self-sabotage is not well explained in current relationship literature. Self-sabotage is thus far explained mainly as a physical barrier (i.e., derived from the effects of alcohol consumption or high level of stress; Jones & Berglas, 1978; Rhodewalt, 2008) which does not fully encompass intrinsic behaviours. In romantic relationships, the term self-sabotage is better explained as behavioural expressions of individuals’ intrapersonal struggles (Post, 1988). As it stands, a major gap in the literature exists regarding the effect of relationship break-ups on the mental health of individuals (Mirsu-Paun & Oliver, 2017). Therefore, the aim of the current study was to explore the theme of self-sabotage in romantic relationships as viewed by psychologists. A series of 15 semi-structured interviews with psychologists specialising in romantic relationships around Australia revealed that relationship difficulties are not always clearly identified in the counselling context and are sometimes first treated as anxiety or depression. Surface and core issues contributing to self-sabotage in romantic relationships were identified. Surface issues relate to reasons why clients present to therapy, while core issues relate to reasons why clients self-sabotage. Future studies will need to be conducted to develop a model to empirically test self-sabotage in romantic relationships.

Community engaged GP training. Does it make a difference?

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Much effort and funding is spent on GP training in Australia but there is little data on how GP training in rural and remote areas impacts communities. Since 2001, the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program has required at least 50% of general practice training to occur in rural areas despite lack of information about the effectiveness of rural training. A study conducted by a new RTO, Generalist Medical Training (GMT), part of James Cook University's (JCU's) College of Medicine and Dentistry, aimed to identify aspects of GP training which have impacted rural/remote registrars' experience, their supervisors, training posts/practices, and the local community. Perspectives were obtained from 37 semi-structured interviews with 14 GP registrars, 10 supervisors, and 13 practice managers. This presentation focuses on the community impact of training and supervising GP registrars in rural and remote areas of north-west Queensland. The primary themes extracted from the data relate to the perceptions of doctors’ contribution to underserved communities and community expectations of the medical workforce. Rural and remote communities hold three main expectations of the medical workforce: 1) Patient-Centred Care; 2) Preventive Care and Continuity of Practice; and 3) Quality of GP registrars and supervisors. It was also identified that registrars and supervisors who uphold these expectations are involved and invested in the community and in their role of being a trusted "family doctor". Effective and well-focused training is also said to impact positively on registrars’ learning by enhancing their scope of practice, their feeling of accomplishment, and resilience. As a whole, community involvement and investment also enhances medical reputation and morale amongst doctors and community members. Further investigations are underway to explore how best to approach community engaged GP training.

Insight into rural and remote GP training and supervision in Queensland

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Many rural and remote communities are struggling to attract and retain GPs while experiencing poorer population health outcomes and burden of disease. Therefore, the provision of a reliable rural GP workforce is vital.

Registered Training Organisations provide high quality training experiences for GP registrars. A collaborative project between JCU and Monash University aimed to identify aspects of GP training which impact registrars’ experience. Perspectives were obtained from GP registrars, supervisors, and practice managers. This presentation focuses on training and supervision aspects in rural and remote north-west Queensland.

A mixed methods study was undertaken and both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. A modified survey based on the adapted Critical Access Hospital Community Apgar Questionnaire was used to collect data about perceptions of rural GP training and supervision with the highest rated factor being medical quality and the lowest rated being scope of practice.

Semi-structured interviews were then used to gather additional information about training and supervision experiences. Interviews were thematically analysed and primary themes relating to attractors and barriers for workforce training and supervision, and impact of rural remote practice were elicited. Attractors included lifestyle, rural medicine, scope of practice, services and incentives while barriers included workforce factors, lifestyle, location, services and incentives.

Rural remote GP training experiences contribute a variety of attractors and barriers which impact on a positive training experience for registrars. Identification of these factors make it possible to tailor training accordingly and foster a positive rural experience that may translate to a future reliable workforce.

It is not what it seems. Heart break leads to mental health difficulties in higher education.

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The issue a client brings through the door is often not the issue counsellors and psychologists end up working on. Relationship break-ups are at the core of why most people seek counselling.

The same is possibly true in the context of higher education. Students and staff members who seek counselling for common mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression could be in fact heart broken. A series of 15 semi-structured interviews with psychologists around Australia revealed that although relationship difficulties are one of the main reasons clients seek counselling, that is not the issue they report in the first session. The most common issues presented by clients are anxiety, depression, substance abuse, adjustment disorder, and personality disorder.

Yet, a major gap in the literature exists regarding the effect of romantic relationship break-ups on the mental health of individuals. A recent meta-analysis provides evidence that both negative relationship quality and relationship break-ups are strongly associated with poor mental health outcomes.

Also, it is known that one of the main obstacles in maintaining relationships is risk regulation and balance between relationship stressors and conflicting goals. It is possible that divergent academic and relationship goals might be leading to mental health difficulties in students and staff in higher education.

Therefore, it is the role of counsellors and psychologists to explore the core issues a client might be experiencing underneath their initial presentation and work with them to find a balance between study, work, and love.

How is self-sabotage presented in romantic relationships?

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The aim of this paper is to present an integrated review exploring the theme of self-sabotage in romantic relationships. Self-sabotage or self-handicapping is a cognitive strategy employed by individuals as self-protection; primarily aimed at preserving self-esteem and self-image.

When faced with failure, the individual can justify the outcome as due to the handicap itself (i.e., an external cause), whereas, if faced with success, the individual can emphasise their ability to withstand the barriers of handicap (i.e., an internal cause).

The hypothesis is that the selfhandicapper creates obstacles which impede success or withdrawal effort to maintain selfesteem and competent public and private self-image. Most of the research undertaken regarding the practice of self-handicapping has been conducted in the context of education, work, and sporting activities. However, in other contexts this phenomenon is less explored and loosely defined.

With regards to romantic relationships, there is a distinct lack of knowledge to explain why some people, having successfully initiated a relationship, embark upon what appears to be a path to certain dissolution of that engagement. Studies will need to be conducted to provide evidence for this phenomenon and directions for practical approaches in relationship counselling.

Who gets Bullied at Work? The role of Emotion Stability, Psychological Flexibility, and Coping in Workplace Bullying.

Blog Posts(12)

Bullying costs individuals and their workplace a great deal. Considerable research has been conducted to explore the incidence and prevalence of bullying in the workplace and the negative consequences to individuals and organizations (Rammsayer, Stahl, & Schmiga, 2006). Few studies, however, have considered the individual characteristics of adults who are bullied in the workplace (Sansone & Sansone, 2015; Calvete, Orue, & Gamez-Guadix, 2016).

The current study investigated personality traits, psychological flexibility, and coping styles which might contribute to victimization and workplace bullying including higher education. Of 419 participants recruited, 299 answered yes to being bullied as a child or in the workplace - 46% reported being bullied as a child and 71.6 % reported being bullied at work. The remaining 120 participants dropped out without answering, 186 participants who had experienced bullying proceeded to complete the entire study. The final distribution consisted of 75% females and 19% males between the ages of 18-65 with 70% reporting tertiary education level (i.e., over 16 years of education). Neuroticism, which is a personality trait characteristically defined by proneness to negative mood states: anxiety, angry hostility, self-consciousness, and difficulty contending with stress, was a significant predictor of maladaptive coping, psychological inflexibility in the workplace and bullying.

Experiencing bullying as a child and neuroticism were significant predictors of bullying in the workplace. The higher incidence of neuroticism amongst participants who have experienced bullying in the workplace might offer a cautious explanation for the dropout rates in the current study. Future directions for effective workplace programs in higher education and research are also considered.

Is Awareness of Suicide Risk and Intent Culturally Informed? A Comparison between Australia and Brazil.

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Few studies have considered how suicide is perceived and impacted by stigma across cultures. A sample of 478 participants from Australia and Brazil was used to investigate cross-cultural perceptions of suicide and the impact of stigma on the recognition of suicide risk in others.

The Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide framed a mixed method within and between groups design. English and Portuguese versions of an online survey were developed to assess perception of thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness, acquired capability for suicide, suicide stigma, and demographic characteristics. A significant model was identified predicting recognition of suicide risk in Australia and Brazil.

However, not all constructs contributed uniquely. Suicide stigma was found to blind perception of suicide risk in others across cultures. Theoretical implications and future directions for research are outlined.

Dr Raquel Peel is an internationally recognised relationships expert and an award-winning educator and researcher. Her TEDx talk on relationship sabotage was featured as one of the most popular talks in the TED series ‘How to Be a Better Human’ and TEDxShorts. Raquel has also spoken at high-profile events such as the World of Science Festival and is a prolific contributor for The Conversation. She is regularly interviewed by the media to provide expert commentary on relationship matters at national and international outlets such as The Project, ABC, Forbes, The Guardian, Psychology Today, Channel News Asia, and the Deutsche Welle German Broadcaster. Her current research program encompasses studies on interpersonal relationships, mental health, suicide, and education. In her most recent academic positions, she served as a Senior Lecturer, teaching a diverse range of psychology, counselling, and health subjects across all undergraduate year levels, and Honours Program Director, coordinating the 4th year Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), Bachelor of Science (Honours), and the Master of Science (Research)(Psychology Research) programs. Her work as an educator has been recognised with prestigious institutional awards, including the Excellence Award for Early Career Educator granted by the University of Southern Queensland and the Inclusive Practice Teaching Award granted by James Cook University. Additionally, she is a fellow of Higher Education Academy. Originally from Brazil, Raquel has been in Australia for almost two decades where she lives with her husband, son, daughter, and fur kids. 

The Raquel Peel Editorial Team

The Raquel Peel Editorial Team is composed of writers who contribute to this site’s overall message. It is our mission to help and inspire individuals to pursue and maintain healthy and loving relationships.