Michael Tarren-Sweeney

ProfessorMichael Tarren-Sweeney

Waimairi 206
Internal Phone: 93524

Qualifications & Memberships

Research Interests

The psychological development, world view and well-being of children in care and those adopted from care remains poorly understood. My journey towards understanding the lives and minds of such children began in 1989, when I started working as a child and family psychologist with children in care and other child welfare clients. I was struck by the absence of empirical knowledge about their development, mental health and well-being – of the lack of conceptual frameworks; of various phenomenological mysteries; and a reliance on non-standardised and subjective measurement tools. Few people had researched these questions for maltreated children, and even fewer had looked in any detail at how they applied to children in care and those adopted from care. These gaps in our knowledge have since been the focus of my life’s work – driven by my belief that improved knowledge can lead to better prevention, identification and treatment of the psychological problems manifested by such children. My work is also driven by a strong intellectual curiosity about these questions.

To date, the Children in Care study and the Assessment Checklist for Children have been my most important contributions to improving our understanding of adopted and ‘in care’ children. My findings from this work are helping to re-conceptualise the development and mental health of children in care, and those who transition from care to adoption.

Recent Publications

  • Tarren-Sweeney M. (2018) Mental Health Screening and Monitoring for Children in Care A Short Guide for Children's Agencies and Post-Adoption Services. Routledge. 196.
  • Tarren-Sweeney M. (2014) Clinician's guide to the Assessment Checklist series: Specialized mental health measures for children in care. London: Routledge. xiv+169.
  • Tarren-Sweeney M. and Vetere A. (2013) Mental health services for vulnerable children and young people: Supporting children who are, or have been, in foster care. London: Routledge. 226pp.
  • France KG., Annan J., Tarren-Sweeney M. and Whitcombe-Dobbs S. (2016) Psychological practice with children, families and the agencies that care for them. In Rucklidge JJ; Waitoki W; Feather J; Robertson N (Ed.), Professional practice of Psychology in Aotearoa New Zealand (3rd ed.): 503-524. Wellington: New Zealand Psychological Society.
  • Tarren-Sweeney M. (2014) Our 21st century quest: Locating effective mental health interventions for children and young people in care, and those adopted from care. In Tarren-Sweeney M; Vetere A (Ed.), Mental Health Services for Vulnerable Children and Young People: Supporting children who are, or have been, in foster care: 37-58. London: Routledge.