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Dr Despina Sfakinos



Despina has over 15 years’ experience in helping both organisations and individuals achieve their goals. Her work spans a variety of contexts including coaching (leadership and workplace coaching), consulting, lecturing and teaching. Despina is a generalist psychologist as well as a coaching psychologist who regularly coaches at the executive level for multi-national organisations and government departments. 

Despina has taught undergraduate and postgraduate students in a variety of disciplines (e.g. Personality at the University of Sydney in the School of Psychology; Critical Thinking in Business and Business Strategy in the Business School at the University of Sydney). She joined ACAP in February 2014, having completed her PhD with the Coaching Psychology Unit at the University of Sydney in 2013. She is currently a Lecturer and Course Convenor for the Bachelor of Counselling (Coaching) at ACAP, Sydney campus. Her role also involves the review and development of the Coaching program units for quality improvement.


Despina has successfully supervised Masters of Counselling and Psychotherapy research students on a variety of topics and using a variety of methodologies. Despina’s personal research to date has explored self-awareness, leadership development and the role self-awareness plays in leadership development/performance and psychological wellbeing. In 2001 she completed her honours thesis, which involved an investigation into the social construction of gender in regards to suicide. She is currently Chief Investigator of a research team exploring diversity in the classroom.

Despina is interested in a variety of topics, including but not limited to self-awareness, leadership, and coaching. With regards to theory she is particularly interested in constructive developmental theories, systems thinking (complexity and chaos theory), post-positivist or critical realist paradigms. She has professional experience using quantitative methodologies (univariate and multivariate), and qualitative methodologies (discourse analysis and thematic analysis). Further, she has experience with psychometrics - as part of her PhD she developed a self-awareness assessment measure (the SAM). 

Expert Comment Topics

  • Coaching
  • Self-awareness
  • Leadership development and performance
  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Constructive developmental theory
  • Systems thinking e.g. complexity theory and chaos theory
  • Postmodern thinking e.g. Social Constructionism, Foucault
  • The history, philosophy and sociology of psychology

Journal Articles

  • Self-awareness re-visited. Currently being reviewed for publication.

Research Grants

2017/2018: A Navitas Professional Institute Small Research Grant. The management of diversity in the classroom: exploring the perspectives of teachers and students at the Australian College of Applied Psychology (ACAP), with Dr Cathy Bettman, Dr Pol McCann, and Sharon Walker. $10,000

Conference Presentations

  • Sfakinos, D., Miles-McCann, P.D., Bettman, C., & Walker, S. (2018). Managing diversity in the classroom. ACAP Conference: The Future of the Human Services: Implications for Training and Practice. Sydney, October.
  • Tran, N. & Sfakinos, D. (2018). Culturally competent practice in counselling and psychotherapy. ACAP Conference: The Future of the Human Services: Implications for Training and Practice. Sydney, October.
  • Carr, G. E. & Sfakinos, D. (2018). I’m not one of THOSE guys! Men who perpetrate family violence – through the eyes of lawyers. 2nd Research Conference on Violence against Women: Acting on Evidence, Sydney, 15-17 May.
  • Sfakinos, D. (2016). Self-awareness: creating space for innovation. Navitas Professional Institute Conference: Innovation and Engagement for Learning, Health and Wellbeing. Melbourne, 4 November.
  • Sfakinos, D. (2014). Strategies to assist students who have given up on school, not motivated to work or who have unrealistic career expectations. Careers Advisers Association of NSW & ACT Inc., Annual Conference Twenty Fourteen, Sydney, October.
  • Sfakinos, D. (2014). Measuring and developing self-awareness. 11th International Conference on Excellence and Innovation in Education: The Creativity ­– Innovation Challenge. Paris ­– France, July.
  • Sfakinos, D. (2009). What is the relationship between personality, self-awareness & leadership performance? Australian Conference of Personality and Individual Differences. Sydney, November.

Professional Affiliations and Fellowships

  • Registered psychologist
  • Full Member, Australian Psychological Society
  • Member, Coaching Psychology Interest Group
  • Member, International Coaching Federation
  • Professional Certified Coach
  • ICF Assessor 2017
  • Member, Women and Leadership Research Group (Business School, University of Sydney)