Uniquely qualified, our team of psychologists have exceptional knowledge and experience working with children and their families.

Emma Langham

Founding Director and Principal Clinical Psychologist

BA (Psych) Hons, M Psych (Clin), GradDip (Dev Trauma) | Member APS, Fellow CCLP

Emma has 20 years of experience as a Psychologist throughout a range of services in the Hunter region, working with families and children alongside Paediatricians, Nurses, Social Workers, Speech Pathologists and Occupational Therapists. Emma is dedicated to working with children and their families for almost any issue that is preventing them living a full and happy life. This passion led Emma to establish an accessible family friendly centre with a team of dedicated, warm and engaging therapists for the provision of timely and high quality interventions for which she is immensely grateful.

Emma enjoys providing assessment and intervention for children where the cause of challenging behaviour is unclear and complex, and where differential diagnoses (other explanations for the problem) need clarifying. This is particularly relevant regarding children who have suffered family based trauma or neglect and are experiencing developmental, behavioural or emotional concerns such as anxiety, hyperactivity, oppositional behaviours, or obsessive concerns. Emma welcomes referrals for children in Out of Home Care where it is unclear whether the child may have a developmental/ behavioural disorder, (such as ADHD, ODD, Autism Spectrum) and/or trauma. Emma is accredited to use the Griffiths (developmental assessment), Autism Diagnostic Observational Schedule and Autism Diagnostic Interview in her assessments, and uses a wide range of other evidence based assessments in her work.

Emma also has particular expertise and interest in working therapeutically with children who are in Out of Home Care and their carers. Emma works from an attachment model (considering key relationships between children and their carers) and is trained in Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (Family Focused Psychotherapy), having undertaken training with American Psychologist Dan Hughes in his first ever Australian based training in 2014. Emma also utilises Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Narrative and other Family Therapy frameworks in her work. Emma is also accredited in Triple P parenting coaching, Tuning Into Kids parenting, the parent-child Exploring Together program, is a Fun Friends facilitator and is Circle of Security trained.

Emma also provides assessment and consultation regarding problem eaters with limited diets and for children with food aversion utilising the Sequential Oral Sensory model, with limited therapy appointments.

Adding further to Emma’s extensive knowledge base she completed a Graduate Certificate in Developmental Trauma through the Australian Childhood Foundation in 2016.

Emma is a Psychology Board Approved Supervisor of psychologists in training at all levels, including for Clinical endorsement and higher degree students. Emma also does some casual lecturing to Masters and PhD candidates at the University of Newcastle.

Outside of work, Emma spends time with her young family bike riding and exploring the outdoors.

Hillary Milton

Consultant Senior Psychologist

BSc (Psych) (Hons), M Family Therapy

Hillary Milton is a registered psychologist who has over 10 years of experience working in a variety of public health positions (Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Mobile Outreach Therapy Teams, Child and Family) and in private sector working with children and families experiencing a range of issues including complex trauma, out-of-home-care transitions, challenging behaviours, anxiety and depression.

Hillary has completed a Masters in Family Therapy from the NSW Institute of Psychiatry and enjoys working from a family perspective in order to support children and carers to achieve positive goals. Every child is different and Hillary’s experience with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Circle of Security, Attachment Theory and Strengths Based Therapy enables her to tailor her approach to the needs of the child and family. She works hard to ensure that therapy sessions provide children and families with a safe, consistent space to develop positive relationships and make effective change. She has experience facilitating group programs such as Positive Parenting Program, Get Lost Mr Scary, and the Cool Kids Anxiety Program.

Hillary has 3 young children and a dog, with the ultimate goal being to wear them out before they wear her out!


Katie Blaxland

Consultant Psychologist

BPsych (Hons) | Associate Member APS

Katie is a registered psychologist with experience working in the disabilities sector and supporting individuals with a range of presentations, including autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, complex trauma, challenging behaviour, anxiety and depression.

Katie has a strong interest in supporting children and their families; she understands the importance of taking a holistic approach to treatment, working collaboratively with the child’s support network and providing a safe therapeutic space. She also acknowledges that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to supporting her clients and that it can be necessary to think outside of the box. Katie will often use visuals in her practice to cater to the development needs of her clients and engage them in the therapeutic process.

Katie has been trained in a range of evidence-based therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive behaviour therapy, motivational interviewing, acceptance and commitment therapy and positive behaviour support. She is skilled in delivering therapies specific to the treatment of anxiety and emotional dysregulation in children and adolescents, such as the ‘Cool Little Kids’ and ‘Cool Kids Programs’ (including the ASD adaptation) and the Zones of Regulation program.

Katie also provides a range of cognitive (IQ), behavioural, personality, developmental and memory-based assessments and has been trained in the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Outside of work, Katie likes to spend time with her family, travel and perform in theatre productions.

Diane Heathcote

Consultant Senior Psychologist  – not currently seeing clients

B Sc (Psych) Hons, M Psych (Clin)

Diane has approximately 20 years experience in public and not for profit settings where she has provided parenting, behavioural, assessment, educational and counselling support to clients of all ages. She has extensive experience and interest in working with children and young teenagers who may be experiencing difficulties with social skills, behaviour, learning, anxiety, self-esteem and or relationship issues. She has co-developed and presented numerous parenting programs for parents of children with ADHD and given workshops to parents, educators and other health professionals on topics as varied as bullying within schools, managing childhood anxiety, Autism Spectrum Disorders and the power of Mindfulness.

Children do not live on islands, so she feels it is important to work with families, schools and any other involved services in finding the best ways to support the child. Of course, parents often also need support, whether this is to increase their understanding of their child’s needs and challenges, brainstorming about more effective parenting ideas or helping parents to identify and manage factors that may be affecting their role as caregiver.

Diane uses a range of evidenced-based approaches in working with children and their families. These ideas are chosen based on the specific needs of the clients and their families. Working with children, strategies are often play-based, highly visual, with an appreciation of the developmental and emotional needs of the young person and an understanding of the need to be flexible and quickly adapt the session to follow the child. Suggested resources or strategies are also based on what is workable within the family context.

Diane recognizes that perhaps her greatest education occurred after she finished University, when she became a parent. Her three amazing children have taught her to “never say never”; that no one gets it right all of the time and that in order to care for their children parents need to care for themselves. While Diane is thankful for the invaluable support of her husband, she has also experienced parental fatigue and isolation. Diane feels that this life education, and the associated negotiations with educational and health professionals, has given her a strong understanding of the challenges of parenting but also a recognition that everyone’s story is different.

Jenna Pickard

Consultant Psychologist

B Psych (Hons)

Jenna is an experienced registered psychologist who has been passionate in tailoring her skills and experience to child and family focused disorders and challenges. Jenna has worked with children and families in both Australia and the United Kingdom where she has primarily worked for non-government organisations.

Jenna loves to creatively adapt therapy to suit the needs and strengths of each child and family and enjoys working in a child’s natural environment when possible. Jenna is kind, empathic and playful in her approach with children. She aims to ensure that children feel safe and that parents/carers feel heard and understood when speaking with her.

Jenna can provide behavioural, cognitive and developmental assessment and is trained in the ADOS-2 and ADI-R assessments that are used in the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Jenna has experience delivering evidence based interventions to children who have various behavioural, emotional or social challenges. Her preferred use of therapeutic models including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Narrative Therapy and her interests include, but are not limited to developing children and young people’s emotions, self-esteem, identity, resilience and ability to regulate, as well as addressing behavioural difficulties and coping with social challenges. One of Jenna’s strengths as a clinician is working with children and families from complex, vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds and she is particularly passionate about working with children in the context of complex trauma, attachment disorders and relationship difficulties. Jenna enjoys completing life story work with children in care and, like Emma, has trained with Dan Hughes in Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy. Jenna is also trained in the Circle of Security parenting model.

Jenna has experience working in the disability sector and is qualified to deliver the Triple P Stepping Stones programme for children with disabilities and is also able to provide therapy according to the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) approach to feeding.

Alex Strauss

Consultant Psychologist

B Psych Sc (Hons), M Psych Clin  | Member APS

Alex is a generally registered psychologist with experience working with traumatised children and young people from youth residentials and foster homes with a strong focus on emotional and psychological wellbeing, developing alternatives to ‘challenging’ behaviours and supporting family units to thrive. He also has experience working in the mental health and addiction field with adults, running both individual and group therapies.

Alex has a particular interest in working with children and adolescents suffering from depression and anxiety. His approach to therapy combines warmth and trust with data driven results. He is renowned for building up a strong therapeutic alliance with his clients, and will continually draw upon feedback to reassess progress and ensure positive outcomes.

Alex is highly competent in the administration, scoring and interpretation of psychometric assessments related to cognition, personality, ADHD, memory, learning and mood. At the same time, he prides himself in his ability to ensure that the client being assessed does not feel that they are in a clinical environment, that they feel at ease and comfortable.

Known colloquially as the funniest man this side of the blue mountains, we are very fortunate to have Alex here with the Jacaranda Team.

Kathryn Russell

Consultant Senior Clinical Psychologist

BSc (Hons), B SocSc, MPsych Clin  | Member APS

Kathryn is a fully registered Clinical Psychologist with over 22 years experience in the field. She has worked in both the public and private sectors and has extensive knowledge and skills, having worked with clients of all ages. Kathryn is committed to helping children and their families, and has a special interest in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Anxiety, depression, sleep issues, stress management, toileting and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

As a parent herself, Kathryn understands the importance of listening to a child and their support network, and has a warm and approachable personality which she uses to engage with her clients.

She has expertise and training in a number of evidence-based interventions such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and Family Systems Therapy. She is able to adapt her knowledge to whatever issues the client presents with.

Kathryn is able to provide assessment for various learning disorders and has been trained in the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Kathryn is a Psychology Board Approved Supervisor of psychologists in training at all levels, including for Clinical endorsement and higher degrees.

When not at work, Kathryn likes to spend time with her family (including her elderly dog), going for walks and doing Pilates. She is looking forward to the time when she can once again go travelling overseas.

Jessica Beckerleg

Consultant Senior Psychologist

BPsych (Hons)  | Member APS

Jessica has 15 years of experience working as a Psychologist in the public sector across various child and adolescent and child protection services (child and adolescent mental health services, early intervention services, complex family teams and child protection services).

Jessica has a passion for providing therapeutic interventions to children and families who are having difficulties in the areas of anxiety, depression, ADHD, grief, school refusal and has a particular interest in working with children who have complex trauma and behavioural difficulties. Jessica has experience running group programs for parents and children including exploring together, tuning into kids, Circle of Security, Parents under pressure and Triple P.

Jessica’s interventions are child and parent led, knowing that every family is on a different journey. Jessica puts emphasis on working on child-parent relationships and encouraging families to develop skills together to promote and support the wellbeing of their children. Social and emotional learning is key to building resilience in our children and adolescents and providing education and information to children, parents, schools and the community is a passion of Jessica’s.  Using individual and dyad based therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Theraplay, and attachment based therapy Jessica aims to meet the needs of your child and family.