Dr. Paula Barrett

Prominent child psychology expert.


Paula is internationally recognised as a prominent scholar and groundbreaking researcher in the field of child psychology. Paula has a distinguished international reputation as a keynote presenter, published widely in the area of prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression, and the promotion of resilience through the ‘FRIENDS’ evidence-based programs. Recently, Paula received the Telstra Queensland Business Woman of the Year Award, was shortlisted for the Australian of the Year Queensland Award and the Queenslander of the Year Award, and received the Highly Commended Certificate in the Human Rights Medal of the Australian Human Rights Commission for her contribution to the wellbeing of children, youth and the wider community.

Current work

Despite this impressive list of achievements Paula remains humble and true to her cause of helping as many children as possible and building a sense of community. She enjoys conducting research and loves working with children. Her passion lies in the preservation of natural environments and the wellbeing of all living beings, including all animals.

Paula is a strong believer in life long learning, staying active and a positive psychology approach. Collectively her prolific writing, generosity of spirit and fervour for research have had a significant impact on the lives of thousands of children all over the world.

Paula is an acclaimed and engaging speaker in both international and national forums, having delivered numerous keynote addresses worldwide.

Previous experience

Education: Paula completed her Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours and a Licenciatura in Clinical Psychology at Lisbon University, Portugal. She completed a Clinical Masters Degree at the University of Queensland in 1991 and her Doctorate in 1995. Paula is presently Adjunct Professor of the School of Education of the University of Queensland and the Australian National University Centre for Mental Health Research. She has supervised numerous Honours, Masters and PhD students to successful completion of their postgraduate degrees.

Awards: Paula was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship at the end of her high school studies, a Commonwealth Scholarship in 1991 to complete her research Doctorate, the National Australian Association for Cognitive and Behaviour Therapy Early Career Award for her research and innovation in the field of clinical psychology in 1998, the National Australian Psychology Society Award for outstanding scholarship in the discipline of psychology in 1999, and most recently the Lord Mayor’s Australia Day Achievement Award for outstanding services in the community for families and children.

Founder: Paula is the founding Director of the innovative research-based clinic, Pathways Health and Research Centre. In 2008 Pathways was a Finalist in the Telstra Business Awards in the category of Innovation. Since its creation in 2003 it has helped tens of thousands of children and families.

Author: For over two decades Paula has authored and evaluated the well-known FRIENDS for Life program recognised in an evidence-based review conducted by the World Health Organization for the prevention and treatment of childhood and adolescent anxiety and depression.

Success: The FRIENDS program has enjoyed worldwide success within Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Hong Kong, China, the US, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, New Zealand, and Japan, as well as undergoing randomized ED controlled trials in many other countries.

Launch: In 2007 Paula’s Fun Friends program was officially launched by the Queensland Premier, the Honourable Bligh, MP, to aid in the prevention of anxiety and depression in four to six year olds. Paula has recently published FOCUS, a recognised treatment for OCD that has been proven effective.