We are delighted to welcome Dr Haley Peckham to our board of advisors. Haley brings a unique multi-layered perspective to The Neuropsychotherapist. Beginning with an experience of complex relational trauma and most recently completing a research degree in neuroplasticity, Haley reconciles perspectives from evolutionary theory, psychotherapy, philosophy, mental health nursing and neuroscience. Her passion for making sense of the effects of early relational trauma by studying the biological impact on our brain and body regulatory systems is re-vitalising and powerful for both clinicians and clients.
Haley’s formative experiences caused her to question what ‘mental illness’ really was. Her preoccupation with this question took her into studying philosophy of mind and cognitive science to Masters level during which time she worked on mental health wards and in residential care homes for children. Noting that many of the children she worked with were being diagnosed with mental health issues and that many of the adults in psychiatric care had histories of neglect, relational trauma and abuse, she became curious about how experiences impact on the brain in ways that seemed to cause mental illness. Her curiosity took her firstly into molecular biology and then into neuroscience and mechanisms of neuroplasticity. Alongside her studies, Haley embarked on her own long psychotherapy journey which she describes as a ‘brainchanger’. Haley’s rich perspective comes from looking through the lens of neuroplasticity at her experiences of complex relational trauma and of psychotherapy and reconciling her knowledge of neuroplastic mechanisms with her subjective experiences. She advocates that we all become curators of our experiences, actively seeking out and choosing to have experiences and relationships that are good for us and will help us move towards becoming the sort of person we want to become.
Haley has Masters degrees in Philosophy of Cognitive Science (Sussex) and in Molecular Neuroscience (Bristol) and researched a mechanism of central nervous system neuroplasticity for her PhD at Melbourne Uni. She studied to be a nurse at the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing at Kings College (London) and has trained in psychotherapy. Haley is currently a lecturer at the Centre for Psychiatric Nursing at the University of Melbourne and Director of Phoenix Neuroplasticity.