Judicial Stress and Wellbeing

Carly Schrever1,2

1 Judicial Wellbeing Project Advisor, Judicial College of Victoria, 223 William Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000, carly.schrever@judicialcollege.vic.edu.au;
2  MPsych(Clinical) / PhD Candidate (Topic: ‘Stress and wellbeing among Australian judicial officers’), University of Melbourne, cschrever@student.unimelb.edu.au

Judicial officers, by virtue of their position within a stress-prone legal profession, and the nature of judicial work, are uniquely placed in a crossfire of risk factors for stress.  Given the importance of judicial decisions in people’s lives, and the pivotal role they play in our democratic system, judicial stress is more than a personal concern.  It is well known that stress negatively affects the physical and psychological wellbeing of the person experiencing it, however when that person is in a position of responsibility and authority, their stress can have a broader impact.  It can impact behaviour, by undermining our capacities for emotion regulation and impulse control.  It can also impact decision making, by compromising deliberative and objective decision making faculties, potentially leading to more conservative and stereotypical decisions.  Acknowledging the reality of stress and building the capacity to manage it effectively are important aspects of judging well. This is particularly true for judicial officers seeking to adopt a therapeutic jurisprudence, problem-solving or solution-focused approach – as we cannot effectively encourage therapeutic change in others if we ourselves are struggling with the cognitive and emotional limitations of psychological ill-health, stress and burnout.  This presentation will review the literature on judicial stress, discuss the psychology of stress as it relates to traditional judicial work and to non-adversarial approaches, and explore a range of evidence-based strategies for managing stress and promoting judicial wellbeing.


Carly Schrever is a lawyer, provisional clinical psychologist, and PhD candidate.  Carly graduated from the Melbourne Law School in 2004.  She completed her articles of clerkship at Allens Arthur Robinson (now Allens Linklaters) and was admitted to the legal profession in April 2005.  Carly then worked at the Supreme Court of Victoria as Associate to the Honourable Justice David Habersberger, before commencing in the Education Team at the Judicial College of Victoria.  While at the College, Carly designed and implemented numerous judicial education programs relating to judicial wellbeing and skills development.

In 2013, Carly completed her Honours level qualification in Psychology at the University of Melbourne.  She was awarded the Australian Psychological Society Prize for the highest overall Honours marks, and the Dwight Final Assessment Prize for the best thesis.  She is currently undertaking her combined Master of Psychology (Clinical) / PhD at the University of Melbourne, in which she is researching the sources and nature of work-related stress among Australian judicial officers.  Carly is also employed by the Judicial College of Victoria as the Judicial Wellbeing Project Advisor, managing the development of a judicial wellbeing web-resource, and advising on other judicial wellbeing projects.

About the Association

The Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration (AIJA) is a research and educational institute associated with Monash University. It is funded by the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council (LCCSC) and also from subscription income from its membership.

The principal objectives of the Institute include research into judicial administration and the development and conduct of educational programmes for judicial officers, court administrators and members of the legal profession in relation to court administration and judicial systems.

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