Dr Tom Edwards | Eastern College Australia

Dr Tom Edwards

Dr Tom Edwards

Director of Research – Eastern College Australia

About Tom

Tom began his scientific training with majors in genetics and immunology before completing an Honours project at the world-leading Murdoch Childrens' Research Institute - focusing on the embryology of the central nervous system. Next came a PhD in behavioural neuroscience at Monash University. The specific emphasis of this work was on the biochemistry of memory. Following this he was taken on as a Lecturer and developed his own research programme alongside his students. Their papers are still being cited a decade later. However, scientific studies say nothing about the human condition. For this reason, Tom began to explore matters of faith and over time Christianity became an inevitable conclusion to this search.

Tom’s research interests have now shifted towards mental health. In this regard he also works as the Senior Counsellor at LifeCare (Crossway Baptist Church) and, with a colleague, has a small consultancy dedicated to helping people apply the virtues to their lives in a brain-based way. In Tom’s spare time he fence foils with a local club, bushwalks when he can and even does some adventure-based activities. Oh, and by the way, Tom is married to Laura and they have a cat – Mog.


Bachelor of Science - Graduated 1995 (Monash University)

Bachelor of Science (Honours) – Graduated 1996 (University of Melbourne)

Doctor of Philosophy – Graduated 2002 (Monash University). Thesis title: Nitric oxide-activated mechanisms underlying memory formation using a passive avoidance task for the day-old chick.

Graduate Certificate in Higher Education – Graduated 2006 (Monash University)

Master in Counselling – Graduated 2010 (Monash University).

Professional Memberships and Activities

• Member Australian Counselling Association

• Member Golden Key International Honour Society (given as a consequence of a high GPA)

• Past member of the Australian Neuroscience Society

• Past or present reviewer for the following international journals: Traumatology; Neurobiology of Learning & Memory; Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behavior.

• Board memberships: Academic Board (Eastern College Australia); and Christian Research Association Board (Deputy Chair).

• Various committee memberships at Eastern College Australia and at MST.

• Large grants received: Commonwealth Office of Learning and Teaching (PP10-1786). Title: Transformational learning in the 'helping professions' as best practice.

• Prizes: Aust. Neuroscience Soc. National Conference poster prize (2003); Excellence in Teaching Award – School of Psychology, Psychiatry & Psychological Medicine (Monash Uni., 2005); International Brain Research Organisation International Congress poster prize (2007); Malcolm B. Menelaus Award (2007).


• Mental health

• Biological Psychology

• Quantitative research methods and statistics

Research Interests

Previous research interests were the biochemistry of memory in which I did my PhD. This work was followed-up by numerous students and had relevance in areas such as brain plasticity and neuron/glia interactions. Since then my research interests have shifted to Transformative Learning in which I received a sizable grant from the Commonwealth Office of Learning and Teaching. Most recently my interests have shifted to understanding hope and its application in therapy. This work has been well-received in both the literature and at conferences.


• Transformative Learning as a best-practice pedagogy in the helping professions. Training in counselling provides specific challenges to both students and institutions alike. Imparting only academic knowledge is insufficient. Skills must be taught and practiced, an understanding of clients as social beings imparted and a degree of counsellor self-awareness developed. Given this complexity it is necessary to pay particular attention to the design of learning so that students graduate as more-or-less integrated practitioners. One pedagogy gaining prominence is that of Transformative Learning which may assist students in making more nuanced, if not wise, decisions within a complex professional environment.

• Hope as an agent of change. Hope is an important therapeutic target but how it is conceptualised and applied in counselling differs amongst practitioners. Implications of hope in clinical practice are various but include: (1) focusing attention on the client’s attachments, goals and making meaning from suffering; (2) learning how to develop specific hope interventions; and (3) becoming aware of one’s own level of hope/hopelessness when helping a client. Moreover, hope has a strong Christian tradition which can be melded with therapeutic practice.


• In behavioural neuroscience - Highest impact factor (i.e. 9.440), reads and citations Baker, K.D., Edwards, T.M. & Rickard, N.S. (2013). The role of intracellular calcium stores in synaptic plasticity and memory consolidation. Neurosci. & Biobehav. Rev., 37(7), 1211-1239.

• In counselling - Most reads and citations
Edwards, T.M. & Jovanovski. A. (2016). Hope as a therapeutic target in counselling – In general and in relation to Christian clients. Int. J. for the Adv. of Counselling, 38(2), 77-88.

In addition, I have published 1 book, 3 chapters, 24 journal articles and spoken at a many national and international conferences. I have also written other pieces, hosted a symposium on hope and conducted a number of professional development activities on virtues such as courage. Finally, I have also had the opportunity to do media on ABC RN discussing the virtue of forgiveness

Contact Tom

E - tedwards@eastern.edu.au

T - +61 3 9790 9200

A - Eastern College Australia, 5 Burwood Highway, Wantirna VIC 3152