Dr Hayley Ponsford

Dr Hayley Ponsford

Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

Children & Teenagers (between ages 6 to 20)

I’m Dr Hayley Ponsford, a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist with 16 years of clinical experience. I specialise in anxiety, mood disorders, eating disorders, OCD, emotional difficulties, ADHD and Autism.

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Autism Spectrum Conditions
Depression in Children
Bipolar disorder
Emotional Dysregulation
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Dr Hayley Ponsford

Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

“My dark days made me strong. Or maybe I was already strong, and they made me prove it.” Emery Lordd

Hi, I’m Dr Hayley Ponsford, a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist with over 16 years of clinical experience. I’m registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) and a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych). 

My extensive training equips me to treat all areas of child and adolescent mental health. This means I’m able to understand and address a variety of challenges your child might face. I pride myself on my ability to navigate complex cases, and I work meticulously to pinpoint diagnoses. My goal is to assist young people and their families in understanding their difficulties and healing. I’m here to help both you and your child through this challenging time.

I believe in a 'whole child' approach, which considers all aspects of a child's life. I want to understand the whole story, so I value input from your child, family, school, and other important people in their life.  I’m trained in Family Therapy and often use it to help families communicate better and solve problems together. Depending on your needs and preferences, I will integrate principles from other psychotherapy approaches, motivational interviewing, or medication options into treatment. With this approach, I ensure that each child gets the personalised care they deserve.

Areas of expertise

ADHD & Autism

Many parents seek a diagnosis when they notice their child facing challenges that seem different from their peers. A diagnosis isn't just a label; it's a tool. It helps us understand your child's unique perspective and provides a roadmap for support. I believe every child deserves to be truly seen and heard. With my experience as the Lead for ADHD clinics in the NHS, I bring a depth of expertise to the table, ensuring your child is fully supported.

When you come to see me, we'll first sit down as a family. This initial meeting allows me to listen to your concerns and for your child to feel seen and heard. If we suspect autism, I'll suggest a screening. A screening helps me determine if a full autism assessment is the right path or if we should explore other avenues. Before any assessment, I gather information from you, your child, and their school to ensure I have a complete picture. Afterwards, we'll discuss my findings in a detailed report, which I can share with their school or other doctors.

Depending on your child's age, I adjust the assessments to make them as comfortable and effective as possible. It's not just about understanding the symptoms; it's about understanding your child as a whole. I also look into any other conditions that might be affecting your child. After collecting all this data, I'll sit down with you, the parents, separately. This session gives you a private space to share your experiences and concerns about your child.

Once the assessment is complete, I compile a detailed report. We'll then discuss my findings together. It isn't just about diagnosing your child; it's about understanding their unique strengths and challenges. By working together, we'll ensure your child has the best environment to flourish. 

Eating Disorders

I've always been deeply committed to understanding and supporting young people with eating disorders. Through my years of clinical experience, my primary focus has been on managing young people with conditions like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). I've seen how eating disorders don't just affect the child; they ripple through the entire family. That's why I believe so strongly in a family-centred approach.

Family therapy is essential because eating disorders often disrupt the family dynamic. The condition can create tension, misunderstandings, and feelings of helplessness among family members. By involving the family in therapy, we address these disruptions head-on. Family therapy fosters understanding and equips family members with strategies to support their loved ones. My experience has shown me that when families are actively involved in the healing process, the chances of recovery improve significantly.

When families come to me, often feeling overwhelmed and unsure, I aim to provide a sense of hope and direction. I believe in being transparent about the severity of the situation while also empowering families to take control. I aim to instil confidence in you and help you understand that you have the strength and resources to support your child through this challenging time. By working closely with families, I aim to bring back the joy and unity that eating disorders often disrupt. Together, we can navigate this journey, ensuring that your child feels understood, supported, and on a clear path to recovery.

Anxiety & OCD

I understand how challenging it can be when your child faces anxiety or intrusive thoughts. With my extensive experience treating anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in children, I've seen a wide range of symptoms. I've helped many children, from those feeling a bit anxious to those facing more intense challenges. 

You might be surprised at how anxiety shows up in your child. Some kids might avoid school, while others get extremely stressed, especially during big events like exams. But there's good news: I've seen many children overcome these hurdles and regain their confidence. Whether through therapy, medication, or a mix of both, I tailor my approach to fit your child's unique needs. Together, we'll find the best strategies to support your child. 

It's also essential to look at the bigger picture. Sometimes, other factors, like autism or ADHD, play a role. I work closely with you, the parents, to understand your child's world better.  For younger children, the treatment approach often involves supporting parents. I’ll provide them with the tools to understand and help their child. When more intensive interventions are required, I've seen significant positive changes using low doses of antidepressant medication combined with behavioural approaches. The goal is always to build the child's confidence, allowing them to thrive without long-term medication.

Remember, you're not alone in this journey. I'm here to offer hope, a clear plan, and the reassurance that we can effectively manage your child's anxiety.

My approach to treatment

I understand that meeting a psychiatrist can feel intimidating. But trust me, you'll start to relax within a few minutes of meeting me. With years of experience, I've interacted with families and young individuals from diverse backgrounds. I’m used to working with complex and often challenging cases, so you will be in safe hands. If there's a way to make your first session more comfortable, please let me know. I would be happy to take your suggestions on board. 

Many individuals I've treated have felt unheard or dismissed in their previous attempts to seek help. I understand the hesitancy in trusting again. To ease this process, I have several methods that can help you establish trust in me. For example, you can opt for an introductory phone call, or have another family member meet me first. If you don’t want to keep retelling your story, you can share reports or letters with me beforehand. If visiting the clinic or an online session feels daunting, we can arrange a home visit.

Your first consultation

Our initial meeting will focus on understanding you and the challenges you're facing. We'll discuss your past, family dynamics, school experiences, and friendships. While many seek a clear diagnosis, I believe in a comprehensive approach. Alongside a diagnosis, I'll provide a formulation that offers deeper insights into triggers, risks, and protective factors. I take a holistic approach to treatment, helping you or your child to recover faster in the long run.

Personalised treatment plans

Every individual is unique, and a 'one-size-fits-all' approach is no longer effective. I develop holistic treatment plans that include many approaches beyond medication and therapy. For instance, I may include recommendations to improve diet, exercise, and sleep. Or I might suggest integrating social or creative activities into the daily routine. I'll guide you through each step, ensuring we're maximising every opportunity for your recovery. It might feel overwhelming at first, but I'll be by your side. Supporting and encouraging you throughout.

With my extensive experience in prescribing, I can navigate complex medication plans. Whether it's coordinating with other medications or tailoring doses for specific mental health conditions, I'll be able to offer expert guidance. My prescriptions are evidence-based, but I'm also skilled in 'off-label' prescribing. My approach to prescribing recognises that people may react differently to medications.

Medication

The idea of medication can be daunting for both parents and young individuals. My goal is to provide clarity. I’m here to help you understand when medication might be beneficial or when other treatment options are more suitable. If you or your child chooses to take medication as part of your treatment, I typically recommend combining it with talking therapies. However, I recognise that some might not be ready for therapy. In such cases, we'll discuss the medication's purpose, functioning, administration, potential side effects, and risks. After a trial period, we'll discuss how you feel again to decide the next steps. My expertise is at your disposal throughout this journey, ensuring you feel heard, guided, and supported.

Education & Training

I’m a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist with an extensive career dedicated to providing top-tier, collaborative patient care. I'm registered with the General Medical Council (GMC, UK), the Medical Defense Union, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RPsych, UK). Beyond my private practice, I currently serve as an Honorary Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with the South London & Maudsley Hospital, which is world-leading for child and adolescent mental health.

I've been committed to the NHS for over a decade and a half, with the last eight years as a Consultant Psychiatrist. My work spans both in-patient and outpatient settings, primarily focusing on eating disorders, general child and adolescent care, and neurodevelopmental conditions. My leadership roles have included developing ADHD care pathways and contributing to broader ADHD service development within South London and Maudsley. Additionally, I've held managerial roles, including being the Safeguarding Doctor for Croydon, overseeing the professional development program for CAMHS Consultants in SLAM, chairing the Medical Advisory Committee, and supervising speciality trainees.

I completed my psychiatry training with the prestigious South London and Maudsley Hospital and South West London & St George’s NHS Foundation Trust, which is one of the top training schemes for psychiatry globally. I ​​gained a wealth of expertise working across a range of specialised areas, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, neuropsychiatry, and general child and adolescent care. I also worked with teams dedicated to supporting adopted children, children in foster care and residential homes, and those who have experienced sexual abuse. Before specialising in psychiatry, I completed my medical training at Merseyside Deanery and my medical degree at Liverpool Medical School.

Beyond clinical endeavours, I've always been passionate about professional development. I've taught, trained, and supervised psychiatrists, trainees, paediatricians, and other health professionals. In my NHS roles, I've chaired the medical advisory committee and a continuing professional development program for consultant psychiatrists. 

My enthusiasm extends to quality improvement and research. I've started projects to help young people move smoothly to adult services, improve ADHD treatment plans, and improve communication between psychiatry services, families, and family doctors. I'm also leading a research project at Kings College Hospital in South London, testing a new antidepressant for young people. I want to find better treatment options for young people, who often don't get enough attention in medical research.

Personal interests

I am a strong believer in the relationship between physical fitness and mental health. Outside of work, I enjoy running, peloton, skiing and walking in the countryside with my dog and family. Growing up on a farm, I value nature and being present in each season. It's an essential part of my mindfulness practice.

Patient Stories

Dr Hayley Ponsford is working with our daughter. She is totally professional, kind and patient. We feel very lucky to have her.
Dr Ponsford is very knowledgeable and has been brilliant with my daughter and us. She has always gone the extra mile and taken time to help us out.
She is very nice, caring, understanding and easy to get along with she has a sense of humour.
Was completely reassuring telling me I have a genuine illness. Was able to explain the scientific element of medication in a way we could understand.
Excellent. Dealt with a difficult situation with compassion and professionalism. I am confident my daughter/family is in good hands.
She made myself and my son feel at ease, listened to my son's concerns and made him feel reassured about the situation.
Hayley was always kind, empathetic, patient and professional and approachable.
Hayley is always incredibly positive and leaves you feeling listened to and understood.

Contact Us

The fastest way to make a enquiry is via our enquiries email as we have a dedicated experienced team to help you find the right specialist.

You can contact our practice management team by:


Phone:
+44 20 3488 8555

WhatsApp: +44 7425 919570

New Patients: enquiries@londonpsychiatry.clinic

KetoMind Enquiries: enquiries@londonpsychiatry.clinic

Media Enquiries: media@londonpsychiatry.clinic

Fax: 020 3475 1321

We are open:

Monday to Friday (8.30 am - 5.30 pm)

Our locations:

55 Harley Street, London, W1G 8QR

20 Fitzroy Square, London, W1T 6EJ

We can arrange a brief courtesy call directly with one of our psychiatrists so you can judge for yourself if you feel comfortable talking to them.

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