About Lead the Way

Lead the Way, based in Melbourne, Victoria, is an organisation dedicated to providing high quality clinical services to those in need, and training fellow professionals in the art and science of delivering Animal-Assisted Interventions.

FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Lead The Way was established in 2003 by Psychologist and Professional Dog Trainer Melanie G Jones. Seeing the degree of attachment between people and their animals inspired Melanie to begin investigating the Human-Animal Bond (HAB). Melanie subsequently went on to develop Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy (AAP) programmes that incorporated her psychology training, psychotherapy techniques and dog training skills and philosophies – and Lead The Way was born.

ONGOING RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

With a strong dedication to research and development, Lead The Way has remained at the forefront of the developing field of Animal-Assisted Interventions since its inception. Lead The Way continues to work in collaboration with organisations and Universities to ensure our team provides you with the most up to date knowledge in the field.

CHILD, ADOLESCENT AND FAMILY COUNSELLING & PSYCHOLOGY SERVICES

In 2009 the Psychology Clinic opened, providing psychological counselling and Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) to individuals and families. The Clinic, located in Boronia, provides quality clinical services to those in need across Melbourne’s east, including the Dandenong Ranges.

Lead The Way Australia is delighted to have been granted full membership of the IAHAIO (International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organisations)

Mel and Tarlach
IAHAIO

Our Therapists

Melanie G. Jones


Clinical Director

Melanie Jones is a Psychologist, Animal-Assisted Therapist, Professional Dog Trainer and the Director of Lead the Way. Whilst completing her PhD, Melanie’s role includes supervision of clinicians, research and training, and supporting people to train their own dogs to provide them with emotional support or assistance. Melanie is accompanied by her own therapy dogs Opal (Labrador) and Felix (Yorki).

Melanie is registered as a Psychologist and supervisor with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA), and holds full membership with the Australian Association of Psychologists Inc. She is also a Senior Canine Behavioural Trainer, with extensive experience in therapy- and therapeutic-dog training.

Denise Warmington

Animal Assisted Therapist, Credentialed Mental Health Nurse, Therapeutic Dog Trainer

Ferntree Gully – Thursdays

Denise is a credentialed mental health nurse with over 23 years experience working with adolescents, young adults, adults and older adults experiencing a range of mental health difficulties. Denise adopts a client-centred approach to assist you to achieve your goals.  She works with her therapy dogs Cayley and Bailey, and is available for appointments on Thursdays.

Denise is also a professional dog trainer, and completed her internship in Therapeutic Dog Training in 2023. She is a therapeutic dog trainer in our WellPaws (emotional support dog) programme.

Denise is a registered nurse with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and a credentialed mental health nurse with the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN).

Angela Lim

Psychologist

 Mondays & Fridays – Boronia

Angela is a registered Psychologist (AHPRA) with a masters in professional psychology. She completed an internship in AAT in 2021. Angela works with a range of clients from ages 2 and up. She supports people with a wide variety of difficulties, including mental health concerns, behavioural or relationship issues.

Angela has experience working with children and families, and offers a range of client-centred techniques to assist you to achieve your goals, including animal assisted therapy. Angela works with Labrador Opal and York Felix. Occasionally the guinea pigs or Misty the Main Coon Cat join in sessions.

Anita Wang

Psychologist 

 Tuesdays & Wednesdays – Boronia

Antia is a registered Psychologist (AHPRA) completing her Masters of Professional Psychology and AAT internship in 2022. Anita works with adolescents and adults experiencing a wide range of mental health concerns including anxiety, depression, work related stressors, grief and loss, bullying, self harm and cross cultural issues.

Anita utilises a range of client centred strategies, such as humanistic, CBT, DBT, ACT and animal assisted therapy. Anita works alongside her Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff) Truffle, who is a lovable and happy large breed dog.

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Jodee Vella

Counsellor, Animal Assisted Therapist, Dog Trainer

 Wednesdays & Thursdays – Ferntree Gully

Jodee is a registered Counsellor with the Australian Counselling Association (MACA Level 4). She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree (Counselling), and a Post Graduate Certificate in Counselling. With over 15 years of experience, Jodee has worked in diverse settings with men, women, adolescents, and children, addressing a wide range of mental health concerns including grief and loss, pet loss, trauma, ASD, ADHD, and childhood challenges such as school avoidance. Jodee began her AAT internship in 2023.

Jodee employs a client-centred, solution-focussed model integrating psychodrama and CBT where appropriate, alongside AAT. Jodee works with her therapy dog Ranger, a Kelpie. Jodee is also a qualified dog trainer, and undertaking her internship in Therapeutic Dog Training with Lead The Way in 2024. Jodee combines her counselling and dog training skills to provide support to clients in the WellPaws (emotional support dog) programme.

Jodee’s diverse experience and professional development underscore her dedication to providing effective and compassionate support in her counselling and therapy practice.