The Wellselves Foundation

Claire Weightman

MAPS, FCCLP, FCOP, FCOMP, MMEAA

Clinical, Organisational and Community Psychologist
Founder and Executive Director

Claire (Chláir) Weightman is a Melbourne-based Australian-Irish Psychologist who has studied and practiced in the field of psychology for over 36 years. Claire is Wellselves’ Founder and Executive Director and continues to work as a consultant professional supervisor and PsyBA-registered senior professional psychologist. Claire is also a government health and employment policy advisor, an experienced community service program developer, a former director of organisational and corporate people management services and human services administrative systems advisor.

AHPRA-endorsed as a Clinical, Organisational and Community Psychologist, Claire has to date, assisted over 23,000 individual clients, while working as a full-time or part-time clinical practice practitioner for more than three decades. An active member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) since 1994, Claire retains appropriate current professional skills and full membership of its Clinical, Organisational and Community Colleges.

Claire has had a wide-ranging past professional career, holding profile psychology practice, business, research, treatment, managerial, profession-representative, supervisory, government advisory and Commonwealth Government Directorial level positions. These have involved undertaking senior professional roles and successfully running long-term psychology practices and small businesses. Claire has undertaken managerial level roles in large and small corporations, hospitals, education, welfare, business, employment and workplace relations-focussed Commonwealth and state departmental settings, welfare and community health agencies, tertiary institutions and private medical practices.


Early Career

Claire’s work as an intern and early career psychologist from 1991 to 1993, involved conducting clinical and educational assessment in child, family and adult neuro-developmental and disability supporting services in Queensland. Skills and interests acquired honed interest and expertise in somato-sensory, cognitive and other assessment and strong individual and family counselling skills.

Claire began part-time private practice in 1991 and continued to operate small practices working with small groups and selected clients during evenings and weekends. Claire gained further skills and APS College Memberships throughout the 1990s in community psychology and organisational psychology completing further professional development training. Claire also undertook additional training in occupational and management psychology completing further tertiary education modules in the early 2000s.

Later Claire worked for six years until 1998, as a Commonwealth Government-employed senior and later Area Occupational psychologist, supporting career-interrupted and variously clinically-distressed unemployed adults in urban Brisbane and later South West Queensland, following the 1988 recession and the five years of social fallout.

Claire assessed skills, abilities and workforce impediments and advised on ethical and cultural approaches to retaining and assisting clients referred to ‘work for the dole’ and other programs in the region. Claire also assisted disabled clients requiring referral to disability support pensions and appropriately shaped voluntary and personal support case management programs.

Claire undertook a period of intensive work supporting staff and sworn police when seconded to working in a post-Fitzgerald Queensland Police staff role in 1996.

From 1997 to 1998 Claire also acted as live-in Senior Resident Fellow at McGregor College at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), providing supervisory care, residential support and in-college tutoring programs to a population of about 150 undergraduate students.

Claire cites one of the strongest practice ethos development periods was initial exposure to the work of former English NHS Clinical psychologist, Professor David Smail in the mid-1990s, while undertaking Masters level subjects in Community Psychology at USQ. Claire’s current research remains engaged with the impacts of surrounding human systems in exacerbating trauma and stress in personal identity formulation.

From 1998 to 2000, Claire relocated to Melbourne for the first time, helping support and promote establishment of Small Business Incubators and Job Network with the Federal Government and supported quality control management of those services in Melbourne in the late 1990s.

Claire was involved in writing speeches and briefings for preparing Ministerial launches of business incubator systems in Victorian local government council areas around the state. This included liaising and consulting with local consortiums and regional councils and attending a string of successful incubator openings.

Promoted in 2000 to 2004 to Government Employment Directorate level work in Canberra, Claire began working as an Assistant Director and supporting establishment of the newly-online Australian Job Search site.

In 2000 Claire was also a key conceptualiser and project coordinator in the Employment departmental arm, personally designing, developing and performance analysing the Federal Government’s still-popular Job Outlook Career Quiz. Claire incorporated use of Australian-normed vocational assessment information, correlating it with appropriate data from Australian Bureau of Statistics workforce and contemporary job role information databases.

Initially launched in 2001, later revised by subsequent departmental managers in 2017, Claire’s original, revised site structure still receives hits from over one million users daily. (See www.joboutlook.gov.au/careerquiz).

Later Claire was involved in the cross-Departmental Employment/Education committees that advised Federal Cabinet on and achieved implementation of Higher Education Workplace Relations reform.

After 10 years of Commonwealth Service, Claire returned to the private sector and moved to Sydney, to work in several roles while slowly commencing building networks and beginning a new part-time private practice, co-located in Macquarie Street, Sydney.

Claire began designing and running programs for children, families and parents, notably a number tailored toward ASD and ADHD impacted children, at Learning Links in NSW between 2004 and 2006.

Claire was also one of the original door to door field research surveyors for the Federal Government’s “Growing up in Australia” longitudinal study of pre-school children. Claire visited hundreds of Western Sydney homes during 2004/05, stretching in area from Casula to Liverpool. The remarkable direct insight this experience gave into the rich diversity and complexity of outer suburban capital living and its burgeoning multi-cultural populations in the early 2000s remains one of Claire’s fondest career memories.

Knocking on doors for appointments with mums of recent babies and young toddlers, Claire most recalls the hugely differing array of tea and coffee cups offered at each preliminary survey visit. That, and the multiplicity of varied cultures and cuteness of gurgling babies passed for cuddling.

Claire continues to regularly review work in human parenting attachment capacity. Currently Claire is interested in reciprocally reduced mirror neuron response learning in reducing inherent empathic limbic system responses in children later diagnosed with ASD.


Clinical psychology and business development career

In 2004, Claire continued seeing existing part-time clients and also began to grow an earlier full-time allied health service-based psychology practice business in an inner Sydney Medical Centre at Darlinghurst. Completing further professional postgraduate upskilling in clinical mental health specialist topics, Claire began developing further interests in more complex treatments and specialised therapies, working full time privately in Sydney over an eight year period.

Returning initially to work with a clinical practice in Bendigo in late 2009, Claire again began seeing families and children referred with various psychiatric and allied health issues. Commuting to and from Sydney twice weekly in 2009/10, while downscaling her practice in NSW, Claire began the upscaling of a second practice in Essendon, Melbourne in 2010/11.

Moving permanently back to Melbourne in 2011, Claire accepted a part-time role as Senior Psychologist at private psychiatric hospital the Melbourne Clinic, supervising students and early career psychologists and students between 2012 and 2014. While revamping the former inpatient and young adult and eating disorder programs, Claire pioneered a successful approach to modifying ACT and DBT programs. Monitored outcomes measured during the period showed significantly lowered risk and re-admission behaviours.

Claire was later a professional supervisor at the Cairnmillar Institute supporting six Master of Clinical Psychology students in 2014, while continuing private practice development in Melbourne’s inner North and Central suburbs. Claire’s career in Melbourne involved seeing very diverse and complex client presentations over a further six year period, between 2011 and 2017.

A former Secretary of the Australian Psychological Society College of Clinical Psychologists, Claire held a string of APS committee positions and roles from 2001 to 2012. These included office bearer and member roles on local, state, national and college member committees, national advisory committees and reference groups.

Claire has supervised numerous past Masters students and prior 5+1 program placements. Accepting upcoming student psychologists is occasionally still possible when time permits, if such individuals commit to make contributions of sufficient time in exchange for supporting practice research or other aims.

Claire continues to selectively and actively supervise early career and later career registered psychologists, psychiatrist registrars, mental health nurses and clinical social workers by negotiation, usually via online consultation.


Practice, Therapeutic and Research Interests

Claire’s treatment support, counselling and practice ethos emphasises increased prevention and distress symptom remission maintenance. Support for achieving gradual reduction of personal risk factors and symptoms is a key emphasis, with increasing resilience, reducing dissociation, improving personal confidence and more mindful awareness of self in contextual surroundings.

Claire’s practice continues to hold keen interest in evolving treatments for long term trauma, attachment and mood regulation compensatory behaviour and neurodevelopmental impacts of organic and hormonal changes. Dysregulated emotion and stress response development in parents and their relationships to child ADHD and anxiety development and epigenetic change, are other continued research interests.

Personality development, mood and arousal dysregulation, human sexuality and attachment are continuing research interests. Personal dysphorias, dysmorphias and the role of various media in shaping personal group identity remain other areas of ongoing supportive practice, personal reflection and continued study.

So too is work related to the impacts of external and internal neurological empathic sensitivity and differential socially-cued responses in personal relationships, occupational and online interactions, and social experiences.

Other areas of research Claire remains interested in are relationship communication and interpersonal negotiation approaches; attachment style, trust and empathy development; and emotional trauma and neglect impacts in family systems on later relationships and personal workplace experiences. Claire has recently begun co-monitoring developments being pioneered in natural “Mind Medicine” for trauma treatment and its research. Claire aims to undertake further professional development training in 2021, enhancing further practice experience in that field.

Claire is a long-standing and continuing professionally-interested clinical practitioner and supervisor of CBT, ACT, DBT and Schema Therapies, Jungian and Gestalt psychodynamic therapies, group and individual mindfulness practices. Dissociation “self trance” and hypnosis are other area of continued reading interest. Claire originally undertook training with Dr Jeff Zeig from the Milton Erickson Institute in 2005 in clinical hypnosis, also having enjoyed prior training undertaken with Michael Yapko in trance and hypnosis work in several past events and workshops. Motivational interviewing, personal coaching and strengths-based psychology are other continuing applied interests. Claire undertook training workshops with Martin Seligman in areas related to the positive psychology field in 2006.


Traditional Healing Therapy Interests and Human Identity and Personal Interests

In 2016 Claire undertook training to become a licensed practitioner of Wayapa Wuurrk, an indigenous wellness and body movement/earth grounding program. Claire has also recently become associated with the Forest Therapy Association of Victoria. Claire hopes in the future to form closer relationships with local Councils offering voluntary outdoor forest rejuvenation and feral animal reduction activities for clients. Claire is a keen bushwalker and advocate of the natural therapeutic advantages of spending quality time in Australia’s beautiful, natural bush settings.

Claire has established a close and valued clinical and personal relationship with staff, management and practitioners from the South Australian Aṉangu Ngangkaṟi Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation (ANTAC).

Wellselves and several past Wellselves registrars and students have previously hosted and supported visiting hand healing and natural medicine practitioners from ANTAC at our Essendon clinic several times per year, since 2017. Hundreds of people visited the Ngankari travelling healers when they visited and worked alongside us in Melbourne. ANTAC healers now run their own clinic in Henley Beach, Adelaide. We hold deep respect for, appreciate and value the wonderful results they obtain with patients here and when working in South Australian Hospitals.

Claire has personally worked centrally from a practice consulting suite at the Abbotsford Convent Arts and Historic Precinct’s Wellbeing Wing, since 2018. The Convent offers a valued co-location with a wide variety of Western and non-Western trained and non-traditional practitioners based there, as well as art, education, performance, craft and cultural practitioners and regular events.

Claire also hosted Australian traditional Japanese “Jyorei” healing visits in Essendon on three occasions after founding Wellselves in 2017 and hopes to follow up with a visit to a local healing and natural earth cultivation centre in Japan in 2021.

Claire has been a practitioner and student of the Tibetan Buddhist Society’s “Path to Enlightment” mind and meditation practices, since 2011. Claire was initiated in practices of White Tara and Medicine Buddha by Rimpoche Zazep Tulku in 2019 and hopes to continue further development from that path, through its wonderful teachers and diverse, traditional practices.

Claire highly values and has long-researched several, significant millenia-old links to former chiefs and clans from old Irish ancient sites and their family connections. Claire visits to learn more of that lineage and strong country connection interests as often as possible. Old Australian ancestral family connections also remain deeply resonant as their further exploration continues.

Claire has learned singing and played stringed instruments since the age of 11 years old and first taking up the guitar. Claire has since learned five stringed instruments Banjo, Bass, Ukulele and Mandolin. Claire was trained in European Opera methods in her childhood and teens by her mother who was an accomplished Light Opera and Choral singer.

Claire enjoys practising chanting in several tones and traditions, plays Irish Bodhrans and is currently exploring their shamanic histories and connections with Siberian and other early Indo-European hypnotic drumming techniques. Claire also enjoys and uses the healing tones of European finished quartz crystal and metal Tibetan sound bowls in supporting mindful relaxation and light, traditional meditative trance states, for supporting mental agitation, relaxation and reduction in anxiety and stress responses.

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