Senior Lecturer and Coordinator - Master of Professional Psychology

MPsychClin BBSc(Hons) MAPS FCCLP

Teaches in Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy, engages in research and research supervision, and coordinates the Master of Professional Psychology course.

Kelly Watt-McMahon is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist with over 25 years experience. She is a Senior Lecturer at Cairnmillar Institute and, as a private practitioner, provides treatment, supervision and consultation to complex, high risk cases.

Kelly has worked extensively in mental health services, including crisis assessment teams, inpatient units, and continuing care, and has been in private practice for 15 years. Kelly’s specialization is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), it’s treatment and management. She held leadership roles at Spectrum (Victoria’s state-wide personality disorder service) for over a decade, is a published author in the field, and has provided training workshops throughout Australia to other professionals regarding working with BPD.

Her particular interest is the management of self-harm and chronic suicidal presentations in BPD, and she is currently leading a large research project at Monash Health aimed at improving practices in this area.


Borderline Personality Disorder; Self-harm and Chronic Suicidality; Mindfulness; Severe adult psychopathology; Complex trauma.

Kelly’s specialisation is in the assessment and treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  She worked in senior roles at Spectrum, the personality disorder service of Victoria for over a decade, and continues to run training workshops for mental health workers nationally regarding this very challenging area of work.  She is an Honorary Fellow at Deakin University School of Psychology, and has provided specialist input there on BPD.

Main Research Areas

Personality disorder; Qualitative research into therapist experience; Self-harm & chronic suicidality; Eating disorders; Mindfulness; Stress in the residential youth worker population.

Kelly is currently engaged in a large research project with Monash Health, developing and evaluating a BPD-specific model for suicide and self-harm risk management.

In addition, she co-leads the WAYS project, a research lab at Cairnmillar that seeks to understand the nature of stress experienced by residential youth workers, with the eventual aim of developing an intervention that can minimise the impact of stress in this workforce.


  • Watt-McMahon, K.  (2014)  Understanding & managing anger & aggression from people who self-harm.  Safe & Secure Hospitals Conference, Sydney, 14th October 2014.
  • Watt-McMahon, K (2014)  Working with people who have borderline personality disorder.  Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium, Albury, 12-14 November 2014.
  • Milton, I. & K. Watt-McMahon (Eds) (1999). Guidelines for Effective Treatment of People with Severe Personality Disorder [should be italics]. Psychoz: Melbourne.