Our people

Our people

The Centre consists of 25 members each providing a unique blend of theoretical conceptualisation, experimental expertise with practical development and application. Members of the Centre are researchers who have built international reputations in the area of psychology and other disciplines.

Executive Committee

Jennifer Hudson


Professor Jennifer Hudson 

Professor Hudson’s passion is understanding the factors that contribute to children’s emotional health, and continuing to improve the services we provide for children and families. Her research endeavours to improve our understanding of the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to excessive anxiety and fear. Professor Hudson is committed to developing, evaluating and disseminating programs to continually improve outcomes for children’s emotional health. View Professor Hudson's TEDx presentation.

Melissa Norberg

Deputy Director

Associate Professor Melissa Norberg

Associate Professor Norberg’s interest in psychology involves helping people change unwanted behaviour and maintaining that change. Such unwanted behaviour includes seeking reassurance when feeling uncertain (obsessive compulsive disorder), saving too many items (hoarding disorder), experiencing a panic attack when confronted by a spider (specific phobia) and abusing psychoactive substances.

Ronald Rapee

Founding Director

Distinguished Professor Ronald Rapee

Professor Rapee specialises in mental health, especially in anxiety and related disorders across the lifespan. He is best known for his theoretical models of the development of anxiety disorders as well as for his creation of empirically validated intervention programs. His recent work has focused on prevention of anxiety and depression as well as on public dissemination and access to empirically validated programs.

Heidi Lyneham

Clinic Director

Doctor Heidi Lyneham 

Doctor Lyneham has been a clinical psychologist and research fellow at CEH for over the 15 years. She has focused her research on improving assessment and treatment methods for emotional problems experienced by children and adolescents, and has aimed to improve access to services for families from rural areas. More recently Doctor Lyneham has had an interest in developing competency and training of mental health professionals, collaborating on the first book focused on the competencies needed to treat child and adolescent anxiety and depression.

Viviana Wuthrich

Senior Lecturer

Associate Professor Viviana Wuthrich

Associate Professor Wuthrich’s research predominantly focuses on the understanding and treatment of anxiety and mood disorders in children, adolescents and older adults. She has developed a number of manualised and computerised treatment programs for children and older adults that have been shown to be efficacious in randomised controlled trials including the Cool Kids Anxiety Management Program, Cool Teens and Chilled Out computerised programs for anxious adolescents, and the Ageing Wisely program for comorbid anxiety and depression in older adults.

Cathy McMahon

Co-director Higher Degree Research

Associate Professor Cathy McMahon 

Associate Professor McMahon’s research focuses on the psychology of pregnancy, parent-infant relationships and the determinants of parenting. She has led several longitudinal studies on pregnancy adjustment, parenting and child development in the context of infertility, assisted conception and perinatal mood disorders.

Kerry Sherman

Associate Professor Kerry Sherman

Key areas of expertise include breast cancer survivorship including lymphoedema risk management, distress, sexuality and body image following a cancer diagnosis. Associate Professor Sherman has considerable experience in developing and evaluating online behavioural oncology interventions, including the Breast Reconstruction Decision Aid (BRECONDA) and an interactive website designed to support male partners of women undergoing breast cancer genetic testing.

Lorna Peters

Senior Lecturer

Doctor Lorna Peters

Senior Lecturer Doctor Lorna Peters has been conducting research in the area of anxiety and, in particular, social anxiety since the late 1980's. Her research has examined efficacy of treatments for social anxiety disorders and development of psychometric tools to enhance diagnosis and measurement of severity of psychopathology.

Lauren McLellan

Postdoctoral Researcher

Doctor Lauren McLellan

Doctor Lauren McLellan is a psychologist and early career researcher with expertise and special interest in clinical research, particularly understanding and effectively treating anxiety in youth. Her research aims to use technology to increase access to effective treatments for anxious youth, especially for those in rural and remote communities.

Research team

Meet the research team

Advisory committee

Centre Members are regularly invited to present at international conferences, contribute to scholarly monographs and hold positions on national and international bodies.

  • Jennifer Catherine Learmont, AM, Hon. MD
  • Professor Peter Lovibond
  • Professor Simon Handley
  • Professor Susan Spence
  • The Honorable John Watkins MA, LLB, DipEd

Find out more about the Advisory Committee

Clinic team

The Centre for Emotional Health Clinic team are highly skilled professionals in the area of emotional health. The Clinic Team, headed up by Clinic Director Doctor Heidi Lyneham, is a psychology research clinic aimed at furthering our understanding of emotional disorders and improving methods of treatment. 

Find out more about our clinic team


The Centre for Emotional Health is extremely fortunate to have Ambassadors who lend their support to raising awareness about the importance of emotional health, the need for continued research and the difference research can make to lives of individuals, families and communities.

Damien Fitzpatrick, NSW Waratahs 

The Centre for Emotional Health is extremely fortunate to have Damien Fitzpatrick to lend his support to raising awareness about the importance of emotional health, the need for continued research and the difference research can make to lives of individuals, families and communities.

A former Australian schoolboys and under-20s captain, Fitzpatrick appeared destined for stardom as he made his Super Rugby debut at the tender age of 19.

But two major knee operations limited him to just 21 Waratahs caps between 2009-13 and Fitzpatrick then signed with French club Lyon in a bid to “clear my head.”

He made a promising start in France before disaster struck with a third ACL tear and Fitzpatrick was ready to pack the boots away.

“The third time it happened, my parents were the first ones to say, ‘look, you tried everything, it’s time to give it up.’

“Because I suppose your parents and your family are the ones that see you go through all the dark times,” Fitzpatrick told foxsports.com.au.

“And they were like ‘look, it’s just not worth your mental state going through all that again.’

Damien managed to turn things around when he was picked up by new Wallabies coach Michael Cheika in 2016 and Fiztpatrick made a return to Super Rugby in 2017 after being contracted by NSW Waratahs for the 2017/18 season. 

Damien will assist in the following events:

  • (27 July) Macquarie University Postgraduate welcome
  • (27 August 8am to 10am) Rotary North Ryde Fun Fun at Macquarie University. Damien to assist in team opening the event, participate in 2km Run event & promote event on social media.
  • (18 October 5:30pm to 7:30pm) CEH and Future Students Health and Wellbeing Lecture on study stress. Damien to deliver short (5 minutes) talk on his experience juggling study and elite sport commitments & promote discussion on social media.
  • (Early April 2018) Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Youth Mental Health Forum at Macquarie University. Short talk/panel discussion regarding mental health and promote discussion on social media
  • Research project on physical activity and emotional health. Damien to support recruiting for research project
  • Promote RAW project (date to be confirmed). To be organised in conjunction with MacWarriors/Aquatic and Sport Centre. Damien to sign Waratah merchandise, participate in an on campus meet and greet with children involved in this research project.

Erin Hoare, semi-professional netballer and psychology PhD candidate

When she's not shooting goals on the netball court Erin Hoare is busily working towards a doctorate in Psychology.  Having already attained a Bachelor of Psychology with Honours, Erin's PhD study will evaluate the impact physical activity and nutrition choices have on adolescent depression.  Erin says:

"I am passionate about mental health awareness because the negative emotional experiences associated with excess worry, anxiety and stress is something we all experience. I believe we misleadingly feel that these experiences are ingrained within us and that they cannot change – that admitting to anxiety may be seen as inadequate or weak. I have been fortunate through academic and sporting experiences to learn that this belief is so untrue and that we can learn to care for our emotional health, not dissimilar to how we learn to take care of our physical health. Being emotionally healthy is something I believe every individual has the right to achieve and a pursuit that shows great courage and strength.

The Centre for Emotional Health provides amazing support for those experiencing anxiety, depression and related mental health issues through research and practical application – opportunities to support emotional health that would not have otherwise been available. I am a passionate and proud supporter of the work being done at the Centre for Emotional Health. Understanding anxiety, reducing stigma around mental health issues and providing access to resources, tools and skills is of upmost importance to our overall well-being."

Erin Hoare
Follow on Twitter:  @Erin_Hoare

Dr Jessica Baker, ultra runner

“Mummy, I don’t have bad thoughts anymore”. Tears well in a mum’s eyes, as she shares a touching moment in treatment with her daughter. I have been fortunate enough to work at the Centre for over four years, and see first-hand just what outstanding work is achieved.  People ask me how I am able to run such long distances.   There is pain, there are low patches, but I hold on, I push on, and the feeling at the end is amazing. One of the things I love about ultra running, is that it pushes beyond what we think we can do.   The CEH’s work, behind the scenes through research and hands on, helps challenge the restrictions that anxiety and depression can place on one’s life. It is a place where individual’s can push beyond their anxiety, and enjoy all the brilliance that life has to offer!  It is an honour to be an ambassador for the CEH and share in their vision for an emotionally health community.

Jessica Baker

Ben Knight, former Sydney Kings captain and Australian basketball representative

"When I was 13 years old my mother Mary and father Ron sat me down to talk about a life threatening illness my father had, they told me that dad had 3 months to live as he had cancer of the Oesophagus. I was really upset and it was probably the first time in my life i just broke down and cried. The cancer had spread to other parts of his body and it was past the point of chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Dad was a fitness fanatic exercising twice a day most days and had a very healthy diet. However he was a very heavy smoker and the oncologist believed this was the cause of his cancer.

It was a very emotional time for my mother and I, within week’s dad was bed ridden and was rapidly losing weight due to not being able to eat solid food. For pain relief my father required regular doses of morphine which caused him to make loud moaning and groaning noises which could go all night. This was an extremely emotional time as i struggled to sleep at night and was fearful of what was happening.

My father was a proud man and rarely asked for help. He refused to be hospitalised. On top of this which I felt made it really hard on my mother he wanted nobody to know of his illness. My mother and I had to hide it from the neighbours family members and friends. This was very difficult as i was constantly asked why they hadn't seen my father around and why his car was sitting in the driveway. High school became tough to attend as i struggled to keep my mind on classes as i was always wondering what was happening at home.

I came home from school one afternoon and as I walked through the front door I noticed it to be very quiet, I went into my parents’ bedroom where mum had been giving dad a drink when she realised that my father had just passed away. Mum turned to me and said Ben can you ask one of our neighbours to ring for the Doctor. I was in complete shock to see my father lying there and ran in a panic to get help .My father passed away on the 19th of October, 1989. He was 51 years old.

After my father's passing I was fortunate to have great people around me, my family and friends were very supportive and amazing through this tough period in my life. As shocked as my family and friends were of my father’s passing, they were also upset that they couldn't offer their help and support to mum and I through this difficult time. After my father’s funeral my Aunt and Uncle took me on a holiday to get away and take my mind off things, this really seemed to help. Over the following months my mother and I often discussed the passing of my father, mum constantly assured me everything would be fine and that she would always be there for me. This made me feel secure and more settled even though I wondered at times how we were going to survive.

From this experience in my life I have realised the importance of having positive support around you and that it is ok to ask for help. I have found that communicating about these emotional issues can help you to cope. I have become an Ambassador for the CEH so that I can promote and spread the word about the resources that are available. I believe that no-one should have to deal with these issues in our society alone.

Shoot For Your Dreams."

Ben Knight

Simon Palomares, writer and entertainer

Stand-up comedian Simon Palomares was one of the creators and stars of the Wogs Out of Work comedy stage show, which later evolved into the Acropolis Now TV series. He has performed comedy shows in the United States, Canada and now Spain and Argentina, where he performs stand-up in Spanish. An acclaimed actor, writer, director, he is also one of the most sought-after corporate entertainers in Australia.

"If sanity, as they say, is a reality we share, nothing can be more important to promote mental health than communication and the confidence to share one's problems and concerns without the fear of stigma.  I feel a bit of a fraud talking about anxiety and panic disorders these days as, I have to admit, in  my case they seem to have been relegated to my past, which I hope gives encouragement to current sufferers. In my case it was a mixture of Cognitive Therapy, being aware of stress levels in my life and cross checking with people around me as to the validity of my fears. To me the ability to speak freely of our mental health concerns is of the utmost importance in dealing with mental health issues many of which are suffered in private and in silence."

Simon Palomares

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