What I offer
Working with schools
I am passionate about helping young people develop to their fullest potential and providing them with effective, accessible, and engaging mental health content so that they can thrive both now and in the future. I have created cutting edge video-based curriculum content for students and training for teachers. Check out the full Open Parachute program here
My weekly video-blog is designed to de-stigmatise conversations about mental health so that young people, parents and teachers can support each other in living up to their fullest potential. Check it out here.
I love helping people turn confusing experiences into opportunities for growth! As a clinical psychologist, I offer in-person and online therapy for adults, teenagers, and children. Please contact me if you would like to request a block of sessions to suit your needs.
I am so excited to offer training for teachers and educators, empowering them with confidence in sustaining their own self-care while also teaching mental health and wellness to young people. Check out the full training program here.
“Dr Hayley made it cool to know how our brain really works...Hayley not only met our expectations… she blew them out of the water! She had girls of all ages hanging on to her every word, she normalised mental health, and made it a safe place for the girls to open up and share with one another. We love Dr Hayley!”
-Olivia Phyland, TV presenter
“I wouldn't be as happy and as mentally stable I am today without the help I received from Hayley. She was always happy to help with any of my problems and was never judgemental in any way just keen to help and give advice.”
-Allie, former student
“Hayley and I worked together for over three years. Since that time, she has mentored me and helped me overcome all my issues with her great ideas. For that I thank you Hayley for continuing to believe in me and not letting go. She is the best”
-Anthony, former student
“Hayley had the trust of the students and made them feel safe like family. I truly am thankful Hayley was there to start and create such an exciting programme...She was was always thinking of ways to improve the service. Hayley always got the best out of the students as she always saw the best in them, her passion and drive was the catalyst in making this programme a success."
-Carlton Cameron, Program Manager
"Dr Watson played an integral role in the external evaluation of the OneWave Surfing Experience program. Her attention to detail and innate desire to go above and beyond, meant this sensitive research was in safe hands."
- Joel Pilgrim, OWSE Founder and Director
“Dr Hayley shared her knowledge and wisdom speaking about Mental Health and how the brain functions in an engaging way and equipping the girls with tips and tools to use in everyday life. She has a wealth of knowledge and such a zest for life, I can't wait to see what her next venture is!”
- Teigan Nash, TV presenter/Ambassador
“Dr Hayley has an incredible way of communicating what goes on in our minds in a simple, digestible way for young people to understand and implement into their own lives. Not only does she understand how the brain works, she is using her knowledge to make a difference in the lives of many. She is an absolute delight and world changer!”
-Jules Sebastian, Founder, the Sebastian Foundation
“Hayley’s perseverance, integrity and authentic care for humanity are just a few of her qualities that continue to inspire me. The experience of supervision with Hayley was a balance of warm compassion and the utmost adaptability to the changing needs of the clients we worked with without compromising the integrity of the project goals.”
-Katherine Sayer-Jones, mental health worker/research assistant
“Thank you so much for spreading your wisdom. I have continued today to talk so highly about your training. The idea of cohesion between bullies and victims and not labelling them as such... this is impressive to me and such a life changer! You made the presentation material very understandable to all. I will definitely utilize what I learned from you.”
- Training Participant
“Thank you for your presentation today! It was my favorite breakout this week. My team is really excited to share this information with our staff.”
- Training Participant
AHPRA Registration PSY0001714850
PhD Clinical Psychology, MA Clinical Psychology, MA Transpersonal Psychology, Grad Dip (Hons) Psychology, BA Criminology
I am a clinical psychologist, program developer, researcher, and lecturer, and my passion is helping people find the freedom in cultivating their deepest truth and living up to their fullest potential. I have developed programs for young people in Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia. The culmination of my research and experience can be found in Open Parachute - cutting-edge video-based mental health curriculum for middle & high schools and training for teachers. You can check out the full details here.
Most people in the Western world know about depression, and most also know that when people are very depressed they sometimes hurt themselves or even go fo far as killing themselves. But for the most part, that’s all the information that’s readily available. And that kind of paints a dreary picture, doesn’t it? It gives the impression that depression is a really scary thing and that if you’re having thoughts about taking your own life then you must be SUPER messed up. But actually, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Ok so we’ve all gotten into fights…with friends, partners, classmates, colleagues. And we all wish these fights would stop. But the way we usually respond actually doesn’t end up resolving the conflict. Why?
Because what we usually do is blame the other person. HE was so mean. SHE had no right to speak to me that way. And these things may be true, but if we focus on what the OTHER person did, we keep ourselves stuck.
How many women have gone through an experience where we have been violated or hurt by a man? TOO MANY!!!! This is such a common occurrence, I would be hard pressed to think of a woman I know that HASN’T gone through something like this.
And while there are many, many things that keep this paradigm alive, there is one thing that I want to focus on today, because it is in my opinion the one thing that we as individual women in this situation have the absolute power to change.
We live in a world that just doesn’t value emotions. Our culture views cutting off from feelings as a sign of strength- especially for men. Boys who are in touch with their feelings are ridiculed, teased, and ostracised by their peers.
I had the pleasure of talking with Hollywood actor Daniel Lissing on this topic the other day (best known for his roles as Constable Jack Thornton in the Hallmark series When Calls the Heart and as James King in the US series Last Resort).
Growing up as a female in our culture, I learned that getting angry was BAD and a signal that I wasn’t “holding myself together” enough. And the boys around me were taught the opposite: that anger was the ONLY acceptable emotion for them to have. For men anger is seen as a sign of strength, and for women as a sign of weakness.
If you’re getting bullied, the first reaction you will probably have is to feel like you’re a victim with no power. You will probably also think there’s something wrong with you and wish that you were different so that this wasn’t happening.
These are very understandable and normal reactions to have when you’re being singled out and picked on cruelly and repeatedly. But you actually don’t have to respond this way.
Ok, so we’ve been talking a lot about power the last few weeks. And last week we looked at how we can claim our power in situations where we are being hurt and are struggling. But what if we’re not necessarily in a really awful situation? Do we still hold ourselves back? Yes…yes we do. Because we all have stories we tell ourselves. Stories that come from early experiences, stories that we believe about ourselves, that can be really subtle and hard to notice, but stories that limit us nonetheless.
If you’ve been following along, you now know all about how we give our power away. How we can feel like a victim to our circumstances and add a whole layer of negativity on top of already hard situations, making them even worse for ourselves. What I want to talk about today is how do we change that? Can we decide to STOP being a victim if something awful is happening to us? Is that even possible?
YES!! We most definitely can. It’s not easy, but it’s actually relatively simple.
We’ve talked about how we give our power away, and how we live in a culture that basically tells us to do that….And today I want to talk about one thing that we DO have power over that we don’t often realise. The things we add to already painful situations.
Pain is a reality of life. Stuff happens that sucks. We fall down, we break up, we lose things we care about…These are experiences we can’t control. They’re a part of life. But what we DO have power over is the things we ADD to the situation. Thinking I suck because I’m so clumsy, I’m a loser because I have no friends, I must be unloveable if I’m single. These negative thoughts are what we can look at as suffering…a whole separate layer on top of the pain of what is actually occurring.
We’ve talked a lot about power in the last few weeks. How and why we give our power away when we feel like a victim; when we want to take revenge; and when we want to fix things and make everyone like us. When I first started learning about these dynamics I got really down on myself for giving my power away in SO many situations…And it was really helpful to remember that I didn’t just make this up on my own. We see these power imbalances everywhere we turn ALL the time. We’re basically brainwashed from a very young age into stereotyped roles that feed into these power struggles. So in a lot of ways it’s a cultural problem just as much as an individual one. There are disempowering cultural beliefs based on everything. Gender, age, race, religion, skin colour, sexual orientation, intelligence, wealth, clothes, social media popularity, the list goes on and on.
What am I actually MADE OF? Am I my inflexible joints or my tight muscles? My sadness or my fear? My worries or my self-doubt? What part of my existence do I choose to believe is ME? My mind wants to tell me that my suffering is a REALITY, that my life is defined in the hurt and the pain and the struggle. That whatever is happening that scares me or makes me feel small is the absolute truth.
Can I be frank? (I’ll take this rare moment of your silence as a yes). I really care about you and that’s why I need to say what I’m about to say. Please know that it is out of love and a deep care for your wellbeing and our relationship that I am writing this. Brace yourself...this may hurt. You’re taking all the fun out of life. Literally.
What is this part of me that craves ugliness? If it’s grey and cold and miserable, if people are being mean or things aren’t going my way - it’s easy to find a ‘reason’ to be cranky. If I truly recognise the beauty that surrounds me, then I have nothing to blame for my sadness and loneliness and dissatisfaction. If I open to the love that’s always available, then I have to see the choice I’m making in deciding that these other feelings are WRONG and BAD.
I know this is an illusion. I know buying this motorcycle won’t MAKE me happy. So why is it that I feel so much more ALIVE as soon as I take flight on two wheels?? Oh mind, you are so attached to what is happening around you! Don’t you know this feeling of excitement and freedom and exhilaration is in YOU, not in the artistry of metal and rubber you are riding? If I believe this lie you’re telling me, what happens to me when I don’t have a bike?
There is something so profoundly confronting and therapeutic about coming back to a place I had left behind. Leaving has always been an escape for me. An attempt to avoid the depth of feeling that creeps up on me when I invest “too much” of myself somewhere. I haven’t known how to cope with all of these feelings, all of this connection. After a while it becomes too much too bear. And so I run. Because that’s what I know how to do...
Why do I perceive emptiness to be a negative experience? Can’t emptiness be beautiful? In the absence of things, do I not have the space to experience myself more? Oh mind, I know busyness and activity and being with people makes you feel safe, but is 'safe' really all we’re aiming for?
The quintessential question. They seem to bring out different parts of my personality. In LA I can be as easy breezy as the salty wind blowing in my hair while riding my sweet two-wheeler on Venice boardwalk...But in New York I can be a version of “cool” I never knew I possessed, making things happen, moving and shaking, alive with vibrant energy and curiosity and possibilities!
What can I see if I really stop and look? It’s easy for me to see the parts of me that struggle, the scared parts, the weak parts. But how much harder it is for me to see my own strength! To recognise the power in me that always comes out the other side with more insight, more wisdom, more ability to thrive.
Can I see all the ways my mind twists things? Sometimes. But then it bogs me down. There are times when my mind is like quick sand and I need the insight of my loving therapist to guide me back to my truth.
Why am I so terrified that people won’t like me? What is it I’m imagining their negative opinion will mean? Why am I giving such power to something I have absolutely no control over??
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