Meet our speaker: Louise Hayes

For many of you, Louise is another of the giants in the global ACT community. She’s the founder of DNA-V model for young people and adolescents, a published author and she’s trained over 10,000 professionals. In her spare time she runs a not-for-profit organisation taking professionals into the Himalayas to learn mindfulness and raising money to support children in remote Nepal. We think her answers to our fun quick-fire questions will illuminate the true personality of this amazing high-achiever.

If you could have any superpower to help you in your work with adolescents, what would it be and why?

I would like the superpower to help young people build a profound self-identity, so they feel worthy, deeply worthy of love, of life, and of connection to others. With this we can do most things and probably change the world. I want teens to feel they can change their world!! The relationship we create with ourselves in our teen years is powerful and enduring. Imagine if we all looked back on our teen years and felt the sense that we were living our one precious life and we deserved it!

If you had to describe your approach to therapy with adolescents using only emojis, which ones would you use (and for the older folk, translate what they mean)

❤️ – we begin by connecting to what we love
– (poo) We then look a the shit that gets in the way of doing what we love
– (controller)  We ask if we are trying to control the uncontrollable, like feelings
then we practice  the skills we all have as humans,
‍♀️ – (noticing) – (our self-talk) –  ‍♂️(and action)
practising  a lot,
practicing to help us ‍❤️‍  (connect with others) and (our self is not fixed, we change)
and in the end, we all want to do what we love ❤️

If you could travel back in time and give your 10-year-old-self one piece of advice, what would it be?

You are not bad.
When I was about 10 years old, I lived in a house with knee-high grass, a falling-down fence, peeling paint and smashed windows. At the end of the street was a girl called Kerry. I was fascinated by her family life. She had a Dad who collected gemstones, and they travelled all across Australia in the holidays collecting stones and he polished them up In their backyard. When I was about 10, Kerry told me her Mum said she was not allowed to play with me anymore, and I wasn’t allowed in their home ever again. I remember this deep sense of shame, that there was something bad about me, and everyone knew it. Poverty does that.

If you had to pick one song to use as a theme song for your work with young people what would it be and why?

Now that is a tough question. Clare Bowditch, Between the Tea and the Toast, because I love how it wedges the profound into the ordinary things like a cup of tea. That represents our life.

What’s the most unusual fear you had as a child (or still have as an adult)?

Moths! Although it’s probably not that unusual. I have gotten better at them through exposure, but being in the same room as a flappy moth is still hard work.

You’ve been tasked with creating a new dance move that will take the world by storm. What would it be called, and can you describe how it’s performed?

Ha ha. That’s a fun question. I would call it The Walk of Life of course! Not with Dire Straights music though, something a bit more modern and upbeat. The moves would be stepping to the outside and noticing the beat, stepping to the right and singing the lyrics into a pretend mic, stepping to the left and doing a new action, stepping outside and joining a ring with other people, and then all of us stepping into the middle and doing a heart symbol!!!
And right there you have the DNA-V model of psychological flexibility.


Thanks, Louise for being such a great sport!

Joe Oliver and the Contextual Consulting team.

You may want to see Louise in action in and we’re fortunate to have her presenting ACT for adolescents (beginner level) at the beginning of November and ACT with parents and teachers in March 2024.