Academic Teaching Staff

The focus of the Institute for Emotionally Focused Therapy is facilitating practitioners in their development of clinical skills, within an integrated approach that is both respectful and honouring of the heart, mind and spirit. We are academic teaching staff, who have come together to develop and teach an Emotionally Focused approach to counselling, therapy and supervision. We endeavour to share our ideas and skills in a supportive environment, with other professionals wishing to develop their Emotionally Focused counselling and therapy skills.

Academic teaching staff have also been trained in other modalities as well as the Emotionally Focused approach.

IEFT academic teaching staff members and clinical supervisors are highly regarded academic teachers and practitioners in private practice, who have come together to develop and teach the Emotionally Focused approach to counselling, therapy and supervision. Each academic specialises in other modalities which have been integrated with the Emotionally Focused approach. Staff members are committed to a supportive, practical and respectful learning environment.

Our current academic teaching staff includes:

  • Dr Judith Ayre, Senior Lecturer

Clinical supervisors

  • Ms Nicky Lock (group)
  • Dr Toni Tidswell (individual)
  • Ms Fiona Hird (individual)
  • Ms Yasmine Wahab (individual)
  • Mr Jeremy Barbouttis (individual)


Dr Michelle Webster

Michelle Webster

  • Counselling & Clinical Psychologist, M.A.P.S.
  • B.A. (Hons Psychology) U.Syd.
  • M.A. (Counselling) Macquarie University
  • Dip. Clinical Hypnosis, A.S.H.
  • PhD (Psychology) U.W.S.

Dr Michelle Webster is the Dean of the Institute for Emotionally Focused Therapy in Sydney, Australia. After completing her Masters degree in Counselling in 1981, Michelle became the Trainer in couple therapy with Relationships Australia (formerly the Marriage Guidance Council, NSW) and developed its first training course in couples work using systemic approaches. She became the organisation’s Director of Education for a number of years before moving into private practice and establishing the Institute for Emotionally Focused Therapy, formerly the Counselling Training Centre (NSW) in 1987.
Michelle’s professional interests are concerned with emotional experience, how to work with emotions in counselling and therapy, and the therapist’s role. She has had a number of articles published on the topic, her first on assessment in couple work, ‘Couple Therapy – My Style’ in 1989. In 1992, Michelle exposed the level of abuse in therapy in her article ‘Emotional Abuse in Therapy’ and made recommendations to the health profession regarding training therapists. Her individual and couple work led her to explore ambivalence in ‘Ambivalence: Will I? Should I? Can I? Do I Want to?’ in 1993. Following this, she explored the nature of the real relationship in therapy in ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ (1998). She formally interviewed Dr Leslie Greenberg in ‘Emotion and Therapy: Connecting with Leslie Greenberg’ (1998), and Dr Susan Johnson in ‘Couple Therapy and Attachment: An Interview with Dr. S. Johnson’ in 1999. In 2001 she began writing about the therapist’s role in Emotionally Focused psychotherapy in ‘Ariadne’s Thread’.

Michelle has continued to develop the Emotionally Focused approach as both a short-term counselling and a long-term psychotherapy for individuals and couples. Her discovery of the importance of physical holding in psychotherapy and her further exploration of the concept led her to complete a PhD in Psychology at the University of Western Sydney, Australia in 2002. This was published by the Institute in 2005.

More recently Michelle has been developing the theory and practice behind emotional signatures. In partnership with Macquarie University, the constructs underlying emotional signature have been researched and applied in the undergraduate psychology, practitioners and clinical settings.

Michelle is a member of the Australian Psychological Society, College of Clinical Psychologists, College of Counselling Psychologists, the Australian Society of Hypnosis, and the Australian Institute of Training and Development.

Lisa Champion

Lisa Champion

  • Masters in Counselling (Excelsia College)
  • Grad. Dip. EFT (IEFT)
  • Grad. Dip. Counselling, Australian Catholic University
  • MSc. (Exercise Science) University of Arizona

Lisa works with both individuals and couples from all walks of life in her private practice in Pyrmont. Lisa’s first career was in the fitness industry, where, as an exercise therapist, she became interested in the emotional toll of chronic pain. Her interest eventually lead her to switch from working with the body to working with emotion – a career change that she describes as ‘finding her true passion.’ Because of her background in the fitness industry, she has a special interest in working with athletes.

Lisa also has a particular interest in the construct of emotional signature. In 2015, she conducted a master’s research study that explored how emotion-focused therapists use knowledge and understanding of their own emotional signature in their clinical practices.

Maria Gray (On leave in 2018)

Maria Gray

  • Counselling & Clinical Psychologist M.A.P.S.
  • B.A. UNSW, BSc (Psychology) Hons, UNSW
  • M. Counselling Psychology, Macquarie University
  • Grad. Dip. Family Therapy (FTIA)
  • Grad. Dip. EFT (IEFT)

Maria has a part-time private practice in Annandale. She has worked for many years as a Senior Counsellor in the TAFE counselling service, working with adults and adolescents from diverse backgrounds. She has recently facilitated several Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs (MBSR). Maria has prior experience in community agencies with a focus on child protection, family support and women’s issues.

Maria seeks to integrate an Emotionally Focused perspective with a life-skills and interpersonal approach to counselling and therapy. She is interested in understanding how emotion schemes constrain compassionate self-relationship and relationship with others. Maria values the real relationship between therapist and client and the journey of accompanying individuals in discovering and valuing their inner experience, developing personal wellbeing and nourishing relationships.

Maria is a registered psychologist, member of the Australian Psychological Society, College of Counselling Psychology, College of Clinical Psychology and the Australian Society of Hypnosis.

Dr Clare Stapleton

Clare Stapleton

  • Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, M.A.A.S.W.
  • D.S.W, Sydney University
  • B.S.W (Hons.), University of NSW
  • Grad. Dip. EFT, IEFT
  • Grad. Dip Ed., University of Technology, Sydney

Clare is a clinical mental health social worker with over 30 years experience in the community services and health sector. She has worked in a variety of settings including mental health, indigenous communities, disability services, family support. She currently works in private practice with individuals and couples with significant attachment injury, early childhood and other trauma.

Clare has a Doctorate in Social Work from Sydney University. Her thesis explored The Use of Emotions in Social Work Practice.

Juliette Ferrier

  • Grad. Dip. in Counselling and Psychotherapy, Jansen Newman Institute
  • Grad. Dip. EFT, IEFT (in progress)
  • Masters of Social Work (Qualifying) Sydney University (in progress)
  • BA, Sydney University, Dip Law (LPAB)

Juliette works with individuals and couples in private practice in Marrickville. She also has worked extensively with women recovering from emotional and psychological abuse.  She has been trained in many different approaches to trauma therapy.

Juliette is drawn to Emotionally Focused therapy for its compatibility with a trauma-informed approach and its ability to foster a sense of aliveness for clients during therapy.

Juliette is a member of the Australian Counselling Association.

She can be contacted on 0414277105 or