This website has been around for the best part of two decades.

It was first built to serve as an online leaflet for the part-time private psychology practice I started in the early 2000s.

Now, in early 2019, its main purpose is to provide a personal background to understand where I am coming from, in my writing and speaking activities.

Work

As the Director and Principal Psychologist of Open Sky Psychology in Ryde (Sydney), Australia, the bulk of my time is spent managing the practice and seeing a limited number of private psychology clients.

Contact

Contact me via the reception team at Open Sky Psychology, 1300 739 531.

Personal background informing my writing and speaking

For many years I have been researching and reading with the aim of writing a book that presents my particular take on and adult developmental change, and in particular, sudden transformational change. This remains a work in progress. The main threads of my life informing this project are:

  • My own recovery from bipolar disorder, especially the most hard-won learnings from the main years I experienced symptoms, 1985-1992, about which I wrote in an early autobiography, Fairytales in Reality, published by Macmillan in 1996.
  • The perspective I gained subsequently after I became a psychologist in the year 2000.
  • My PhD research, 1998-2003, which gathered stories from 80 subjects about their sudden moments of insight and transformative experiences.
  • Most importantly, perhaps, and the backdrop to all of the above, has been my constant reading and fascination, since 1991, with books and internet resources, which throw light on psychological and spiritual aspects of personal growth. Although the initial drive for this search came from a need to understand how bipolar had suddenly and at the time, mysteriously, entered my life in 1985 – my primary interest and focus broadened over the last couple of decades. I am now most interested in how transformative change happens in the human condition in general.
  • Finally, since 2010, the most absorbing, demanding and challenging personal struggle leading to my own adult growth has been, without question, the building and running of my private psychology practice, recently re-named Open Sky Psychology, which now has a staff of seven dedicated therapists.

Qualifications

PhD (Moments of Insight: Self and Change), Macquarie University (earned Vice-Chancellor's Commendation for excellence)

Registered Psychologist, No. PS0058293

BA (Hons) Psychology, MAPS
BA Communication (Journalism), Charles Sturt University

Registered Psychologist, No. PS0058293

BA (Hons) Psychology, MAPS
BA Communication (Journalism), Charles Sturt University

PhD Topic

Specifically, the PhD investigated the role that shifts in perspective might play in prompting developmental ‘updates’ to our sense of self and the paradigm through which we view ourselves, others and the world. The contribution of this thesis was to offer an explanation for a theoretical gap in a major developmental theory of personality (ego development). It offers a new understanding as to how sudden transitions in ego development might take place.

Publications

Parker, G., Tavella, G., Macqueen, G. et al. (2018). Revising Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, criteria for the bipolar disorders: Phase I of the AREDOC project. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 1-10.

The above article was a combined effort of 64 professionals, mostly psychiatrists, but with a few psychologists, drawn from 14 countries and five continents. The aim was to assemble an international task force to begin a process of revising and updating the criteria used for diagnosing bipolar disorder.

Orum, M. (2008). The role of wellbeing plans in managing bipolar II disorder. In G. Parker, (Ed.) Bipolar II Disorder: Modelling, Measuring and Managing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Orum, M. (1999) Van Gogh and lithium. Creativity and bipolar disorder: perspective of a psychologist/writer. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 33:S114-S116.

Orum, M. (1996) Fairytales in Reality. Sydney: Macmillan

University Lecturing and Related Experience

Seminar Stream Leader, Personality, PSY305, Psychology, Macquarie University. This semester-length seminar stream called "Sense of Self and Change" explored developmental and cultural aspects of theories of personality and their interface with theories of personality change. It examined the ways various therapies seek to facilitate change, as compared with change that appears to happen spontaneously.

Lecturer, Psychosis Workshop,
Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Psychology, Macquarie University. Explored the impact that psychotic illnesses have on a person’s sense of self, and taught counselling approaches for intern psychologists.

Lecturer, Psychosis I & II, Bachelor of Counselling and Human Change, and Graduate Diploma Courses, Jansen Newman Institute of Counselling and Applied Psychotherapy, St. Leonards. Training intern psychotherapists as above.

Tutor, Philosophy of Psychoanalysis, PSY361, Psychology, Macquarie University. This unit, inspired and chaired by my PhD supervisor, Dr Doris McIlwain, acquainted 3rd year psychology students with an understanding of the building block ideas which informed early psychoanalytic theory.

Lecturer and Tutor, PHAR1612, Sydney University. Lectures and tutorials on psychology topics for first year pharmacy students: self-concept and body image; psychological responses to chronic illness; social support; loss; grief and dying. Instruction on empathy and its impact.

Lecturer, Suicide Counselling Workshop, Diploma in Applied Psychology; Clinical & Counselling Masters; Masters in Social Health, at Macquarie University. This one-day practical training workshop was run several times each year.

Tutor, Macquarie University: Introduction to Psychology; Research Methods in Personality Psychology

Group Supervisor, Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma in Applied Psychology, Macquarie University. Supervised small-group supervision sessions for intern psychologists.