Researcher biography

Kenneth Pakenham, PhD, is an Emeritus Professor of clinical and health psychology in the School of Psychology at The University of Queensland, Australia. His research and clinical practice in psychology spans 40 years. Inspired by the resilience of some people with serious illnesses, he has committed much of his career to investigating the processes that foster personal growth in the context of health adversities, and to translating his findings into interventions that help people live fully with illness. This passion has driven his empirical, theoretical and translational research, curriculum development, and clinical training and supervision. Importantly, his work has included not only the person with chronic illness, but also his or her network, particularly the carer. Through his 160+ publications, over 70 conference presentations, 3 research awards, and more than 3 million dollars of competitive grant funding, he has become a leader in the application of positive health frameworks to several chronic illnesses, and to caregiving in these contexts. His research has helped to inform government policies, particularly those related to carers, and establish interventions and assessment protocols within government and community services. The “living fully with illness” theme integrates his early research in stress/coping theory, his mid-career shift to incorporate the rise of positive psychology, and his current and future focus on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Using ACT to extend his research on living fully with illness has also invigorated his teaching. He developed the first ACT university course in Australia. This course integrates training in therapist competencies and self-care skills and shows published empirical evidence of fostering competent and resilient clinicians. Through peer reviewed publications, conference and keynote presentations, and three teaching awards, he has become a leader in integrating training in therapist and self-care competencies into clinical psychology curricula using an ACT framework. He has six teaching awards including two national teaching awards. He has supervised the postgraduate research of 53 students. He has served in many influential professional roles including: Chair of the Registration Committee of the Psychologists Board of Queensland for over 10 years, Director of The University of Queensland Psychology Clinic for 7 years, Honours Convenor for 3 years, and member of the editorial boards for six international journals.