When he was elected President of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1998, Dr Martin Seligman urged psychologists to look beyond human pathology and mental illness, and to instead focus on positive human traits. His speech had a profound influence on Michelle and inspired her to complete a doctorate on child wellbeing at the University of Melbourne.

Michelle wanted to identify and understand the key components of child wellbeing. What constitutes child wellbeing and resilience? What is it that allows children to thrive?

Michelle tracked the coping responses of 166 children in real-time and found that the children with the most effective coping skills had supportive relationships, were optimistic about their abilities, felt interested and engaged, and were effective problem-solvers.

The insights she gained from her doctoral research have shaped Michelle’s professional and personal life, and continue to guide her as she helps children, parents, families, and communities to manage challenges with confidence, to build resilience, and to flourish.