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Community Spotlight- Heather Hayes

Community Spotlight: Heather Hayes - Paradigm Malibu

Shining a Light on Paradigm Partners & Innovators in The Mental Health Field

Heather Hayes is changing the field of intervention therapy with ethics and empathy.

As one of the nation’s most celebrated and groundbreaking interventionists, therapists and educational consultants, Heather Hayes has over 35 years of dynamic experience in the mental health field, with certifications in everything from equine therapy to hostage negotiation. As an interventionist, she has an unprecedented success rate, with over 90% of those whom she assists through the intervention process successfully entering treatment. Born and raised in the South, Hayes came from what she describes as “a good home – my father was an archaeologist, my grandfather was a U.S. Senator, and I went to great private schools.” But by 16 years old, Hayes says she met all the criteria for a substance use disorder diagnosis. She needed help, and at 21 years old, she finally had the courage to reach out and ask for it. She got sober shortly thereafter, and it was during this pivotal life moment that the seeds of her illustrious career in psychology were planted. 

“You know the expression, ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired’? Well, that was me. My grades were awful, I was a bad friend, I made mortifying choices.” Hayes described feeling broken and beaten down. She knew she needed to do something different. Hayes worked diligently to overcome her issues, going on to complete her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Emory University with a 3.9 G.P.A. After obtaining her master’s degree in Counseling at Antioch New England, Hayes built a thriving practice, and did her very first intervention in 1986. After years of exposure to a variety of intervention formats and treatment modalities, in the early 2000s Hayes began to focus her energy on her intervention practice, which has since become one of the most successful and reputable intervention programs in the nation. According to Paradigm Treatment Centers’ Director of Admissions Derek Lemm, “Heather Hayes’ transport team has never failed us. They are the ultimate backup plan for parents, and they really work with youth to come into treatment mindfully. When clients arrive at Paradigm with Heather’s team, they are consistently prepped, ready and calm.” 

As an FBI-trained, certified hostage negotiator, in 2017 Hayes was the Visionary Speaker at SUD Talks, in which she explored the principles behind hostage negotiation as a lens through which to understand addiction, and unpack the stigmas associated with it and related mental health issues. Hayes believes in following a strength-based model as opposed to focusing on addiction from a deficit perspective, a philosophy that is closely matched at Paradigm Treatment Centers

With decades of experience working in the field, Hayes has the benefit of a longer view on how we treat clients grappling with addiction-related issues, and how far we have come since she began working in mental health. As is the case at Paradigm Treatment Centers, Hayes employs an approach that is influenced by a systemic therapeutic model, one that considers and works with the entire family unit, not only the teen in peril.

Hayes is particularly concerned with the ethics of interventions, and takes great care to utilize a mindful and conscious approach to practices such as transport, which she feels can only exacerbate the trauma already experienced by a person struggling with substance use. As such, Hayes has developed what she calls trauma-informed transport, in which treatment begins the minute contact is made. Hayes is so passionate about ethics in the field of mental health that she started the Heather Hayes & Associates Ethics Pledge, signed by treatment providers who state that they will not participate in unethical behavior. She also started a professional group entitled Unite for Ethics Now, an entity committed to creating ethical blueprints of standards and education for good quality care for consumers, providers, and professionals. The group also boasts a Board of Directors comprised of addiction specialists, parent advocates, treatment center CEOs, attorneys, and government officials. 

When asked about her achievements, and what she hopes for the future, Hayes says that she has always loved her work, and that she feels very blessed to be surrounded by her impeccable team, stating that she is only as good as the people she surrounds herself with. Over the last few years, Hayes says that “everything has beautifully come into play. We are doing the best work we can do while remaining dedicated to growth and learning.” With more planned media appearances, writing a book, and a schedule full of speaking engagements, Hayes has no plans to retire anytime soon. But when she does, she wants to feel like she did her part to leave the business better than she found it. For more information on Heather Hayes, her work and her professional experience, visit https://www.heatherhayes.com/.

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