Leesa Van Niekerk

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Leesa Van Niekerk

Lecturer in Clinical Psychology

Room 115 , SocSci

(03) 6226 6645 (phone)

Dr Van Niekerk is a Lecturer within the Division of Psychology, School of Medicine and teaches in the postgraduate psychology program. Leesa’s research focuses on women’s health including persistent pelvic pain, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome and perinatal psychology. Leesa’s research also focusses on the development and maintenance of reflective practice and supervision in the helping professions.


Dr Van Niekerk graduated with a PhD in Clinical Psychology in 2003. She is a member of the Australian Psychological Society Clinical College and the APS Teaching, Learning and Psychology Interest Group. Dr Van Niekerk is a registered Clinical Psychologist and provides supervision to provisionally registered psychologists and psychologists completing the clinical endorsement. Dr Van Niekerk is a member of the Family and Interpersonal Relationship Research Lab at UTAS and supervises postgraduate research students. She teaches behaviour change, professional practice and ethics, advanced assessment, and health psychology.

Career summary


PhD, University of Tasmania, Australia, 2003. Thesis: “An examination of the factors that influence the prescription and use of long-term Opioid Therapy in the treatment of chronic nonmalignant pain”.


Professional practice

  • Member of the Australian Psychological Society
  • Fellow of the College of Clinical Psychologists
  • Gold Member of the MARCE Society
  • Registered Psychologist with Clinical and Supervisory endorsement, Australian Health Professionals Regulation Agency


Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Psychological assessment, Psychology ethics, Psychology practice, Health Psychology, Women’s Health, Reflective Practice and Supervision

Teaching expertise

Dr Van Niekerk’s teaching experience and expertise is in postgraduate psychology training and clinical psychology. She teaches the following topics: behaviour change, health psychology, professional practice, reflective practice and supervision. Dr Van Niekerk has experience in course and unit development and has a particular interest in the guidance and development of postgraduate and early career clinicians.

View more on Dr Leesa Van Niekerk in WARP


  • Women’s Health
  • Persistent Pelvic Pain
  • Mental health
  • Psychology
  • Therapeutic program evaluation
  • Chronic disease management
  • Innovative teaching practices in the postgraduate professional training
  • Reflective Practice
  • Supervision

Research Themes

  • Leesa’s research aligns with the University's research themes of Better Health.Her areas of research include women’s health, persistent pelvic pain, relationships, reflective practice and supervision. Leesa is interested in access to healthcare for women residing in rural communities and is researching the delivery of psychological services for conditions such as persistent pelvic pain and endometriosis.

Current projects

  • The Process of Self-Reflection in Postgraduate Psychology Students: Enhancing learning through feedback – with Dr Mandy Matthewson and Dr Kimberley Norris
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Mindfulness for Endometriosis: A pilot study – with Dr Mandy Matthewson (funded by the College of Clinical Psychologists)
  • Medical and Allied Health Practitioner Knowledge of Endometriosis – with Dr Mandy Matthewson and Dr Michael Quinn

Fields of Research

  • Health psychology (520304)
  • Clinical psychology (520302)
  • Nursing (420599)
  • Health services and systems (420399)
  • Behavioural neuroscience (520202)
  • Curriculum and pedagogy theory and development (390102)
  • Mental health services (420313)
  • Health and community services (420305)
  • Health care administration (420306)
  • Psychological methodology, design and analysis (520105)

Research Objectives

  • Other health (209999)
  • Health education and promotion (200203)
  • Human pain management (200103)
  • Clinical health (200199)
  • Public health (excl. specific population health) (200499)
  • Expanding knowledge in psychology (280121)
  • Evaluation of health outcomes (200202)
  • Human pharmaceutical treatments (240803)


Total publications


Journal Article

(7 outputs)
2021McKay CL, Van Niekerk LM, Matthewson ML, 'An exploration of dyadic relationship approach-avoidance goals and relationship and sexual satisfaction in couples coping with endometriosis', Archives of Sexual Behavior ISSN 0004-0002 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1007/s10508-021-02150-1 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: McKay CL; Matthewson ML


2021Van Niekerk L, Johnstone L, Matthewson M, 'Predictors of self-compassion in endometriosis: the role of psychological health and endometriosis symptom burden', Human Reproduction pp. 1-10. ISSN 0268-1161 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1093/humrep/deab257 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Johnstone L; Matthewson M


2020Van Niekerk LM, Schubert E, Matthewson M, 'Emotional intimacy, empathic concern, and relationship satisfaction in women with endometriosis and their partners', Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology pp. 1-8. ISSN 0167-482X (2020) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/0167482X.2020.1774547 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 5Web of Science - 2

Co-authors: Matthewson M


2019Van Niekerk L, Weaver-Pirie B, Matthewson M, 'Psychological interventions for endometriosis-related symptoms: a systematic review with narrative data synthesis', Archives of Women's Mental Health, 22 pp. 723-735. ISSN 1434-1816 (2019) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1007/s00737-019-00972-6 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 7Web of Science - 6

Co-authors: Weaver-Pirie B; Matthewson M


2003Van Niekerk LM, Martin F, 'The Impact of the Nurse-Physician Relationship on Barriers Encountered by Nurses During Pain Management', Pain Management Nursing, 4, (1) pp. 3-10. ISSN 1524-9042 (2003) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1053/jpmn.2003.4 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 32

Co-authors: Martin F


2002Van Niekerk LM, Martin F, 'The Impact of the Nurse-Physician Professional Relationship on Nurses' Experience of Ethical Dilemmas in Effective Pain Management', Journal of Professional Nursing, 18, (5) pp. 276-288. ISSN 8755-7223 (2002) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1053/jpnu.2002.129223 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 13Web of Science - 10

Co-authors: Martin F


2001Van Niekerk LM, Martin F, 'Tasmanian nurses' knowledge of pain management', International Journal of Nursing Studies, 38, (2) pp. 141-152. ISSN 0020-7489 (2001) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/S0020-7489(00)00053-5 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 29Web of Science - 23

Co-authors: Martin F


Conference Publication

(2 outputs)
2018Van Niekerk L, Norris K, Matthewson M, 'The process of self-reflection in postgraduate psychology students: Does regular feedback enhance reflective skills?', Australian Psychological Society (APS) Congress Psychology advancing into a new age, 27-30 September, Sydney, NSW, pp. 58. (2018) [Conference Extract]

DOI: 10.1111/ap.12372 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Norris K; Matthewson M


1999Van Niekerk LM, Martin F, 'An examination of nurses' knowledge and beliefs concerning pain management', Australian Journal of Psychology, 29 September - 3 October, Hobart, Tasmania, pp. 142. (1999) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Martin F


(1 outputs)
2003Van Niekerk LM, 'An examination of the factors that influence the prescription and use of long-term Opioid Therapy in the treatment of chronic nonmalignant pain' (2003) [PhD]

[eCite] [Details]

Grants & Funding

Funding Summary

Number of grants


Total funding



Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Mindfulness Group Intervention for Tasmanian Women Living with Persistent Pelvic Pain. (2021)$9,966
The physical, psychological, personal, financial and occupational burden experienced by women diagnosed with persistent pelvic pain (PPP) is significant. Tasmanian women face additional barriers to accessing treatment due to a lack of available services. This project will reduce this burden by providing evidence-based group psychological therapy for Tasmanian women living with persistent pelvic pain (PPP).
Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation ($9,966)
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Van Niekerk LM; Matthewson ML; Aitken D; Campbell JA; Ramsden C; Keating S; Saunder N
Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioural Interventions for Endometriosis: Does presentation style influence outcome? (2018)$3,000
Endometriosis has been found to have a significant negative impact on psychological distress (e.g., Vannuccini et al. 2017) and quality of life (e.g., Tripoli et al. 2010). A systematic review of the effectiveness of psychological treatment (including CBT and mindfulness) in the management of Endometriosis has identified significant deficiencies in the quality of the research, including weak study design, poorly defined interventions and variability in treatment within study groups (Weaver-Pirie, Van Niekerk & Matthewson, unpublished manuscript). The access to CBT and mindfulness interventions for women diagnosed with endometriosis is complicated by a lack of evidence-based treatment protocols, cost of individual psychological treatment, and availability/access to Clinical Psychologists with specific training and knowledge of endometriosis and the interventions most suitable for this population. Based on the systematic review of the literature, a pilot program utilizing CBT and mindfulness in the management of endometriosis was developed by the researchers. The current study aims to: 1) examine the effectiveness of an 8-session group CBT and mindfulness intervention in reducing psychological distress and improving quality of life, 2) compare the efficacy of intervention delivery method (group versus self-instruction) and 3) produce a CBT and mindfulness treatment protocol that is evidence-based and cost-effective for both practitioners and clients.
APS College of Clinical Psychologists ($3,000)
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Van Niekerk LM; Matthewson ML
The Place of Opioid Therapy in Chronic Non-Malignant Pain Management (2000 - 2002)$75,000
Department of Health and Ageing ($75,000)
Scholarship-Pharmaceutical Benefits Branch
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Martin F; Van Niekerk LM
2000 - 2002

Research Supervision




PhDAn Examination of Psycho-social and Socio-economic Factors that Influence Pain Perception and Coping in Persons with Chronic Pain: Informing group-based biopsychosocial interventions in pain management2018
PhDThe Treatment of Incarcerated Sexual Offenders in the Criminal Justice System: What works in the context of a small jurisdiction2020
PhDPsychological injury in Australian police officers: a qualitative study of prevalence and treatment methodologies2021
PhDAn evaluation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for the proactive prevention and intervention of climate distress2021
PhDParental Alienation: Alienated children's experience and the path to reunification2021