About us

Established in 2004, we've have grown to be a respected voice at the forefront of the parenting world.

Drawing on the latest thinking in psychology, neuroscience and psychotherapy our team are trained in parenting and facilitation skills and have vast experience in parenting training. We work with parents and carers, schools and nurseries, corporate and business clients.  In addition, we expand and enhance the skills of parenting professionals with our Train the Trainer courses.

Everyone at The Parent Practice is a parent and encounters the everyday challenges that all parents face. Our own family lives have been enriched and transformed with the parenting skills we teach, so our aim is to pass on our skills to help parents bring up children to be happy and the best they can be.

Melissa Hood

Melissa Hood, Director

The founding director, Melissa is head of training, programme design & development. 

Born in Australia, she was educated there and in Singapore, moving to London with her husband, John Hood. Melissa's degrees are in Law and History and she worked as a solicitor. She and John are the parents of a daughter and two sons. When her youngest was born she changed career to spend more time at home, working part time as a decorative painter.

Melissa completed the Teacher Training Programme (New Learning Centre) in 1998. She was a Parenting Facilitator there for 6 years, running parenting skills classes, workshops and parent and family consultations.  Melissa is an Effective Parenting Educator as trained by Bonnie Harris.  The Parent Practice was set up in 2004 and since then she has led hundreds of classes.  She has a Certificate in Systemic Family Therapy (Birkbeck) and is trained in NLP, Group dynamics, Non-verbal communication and Supporting Separated Families.  She is the first UK Gottman Certified Educator to lead Bringing Baby Home Workshops.

She took a parenting class when one of her sons, diagnosed with dyslexia, was in trouble at school with impulsive, aggressive and disruptive behaviour. Melissa and John wanted to address the behaviour, as well as help him academically. The advice transformed their family life as they learnt how to understand their children’s needs better, communicate more positively and improve their confidence. 

Melissa brings wisdom, a wealth of experience and sensitivity to her work with parents.

Melissa splits her time between London and Australia - having family in both countries but is in the UK frequently running the 'Training for Trainer', and many other programmes.

Melissa is the auhor of 'Real Parenting for Real Kids' published in 2016.

Elaine Halligan

Elaine Halligan, Director

As a parenting specialist and London Director of The Parent Practice with over ten years experience, Elaine helps parents raise competent and confident children, through parenting classes, private coaching & keynote speaking in schools. She also delivers seminars to working parents in the corporate world, helping them find the holy grail of parenting, keeping calm!

She faced the challenge of parenting her son, who had undiagnosed learning difficulties & at age seven, had been excluded from three schools. He experienced failure at a young age and was written off in society .However through the use of life changing positive parenting skills, her  son’s self worth improved & he finished his schooling as Head Boy. Her mission is to impart her knowledge to other parents, to ensure all children, whether  ‘different’ or ‘difficult’ ,survive and thrive in their educational years and beyond.

She trained initially with The New Learning Centre in North London, then as an Effective Parenting Educator with Bonnie Harris, has accessed Neuro Linguistic Programming & done couples therapy work with the Gottman Institute.

She regularly appears on SKY news, speaks on BBC radio & is quoted in the broadsheet press. In June 2016 Melissa and Elaine were featured in the Mail on Sunday ‘You’ magazine as two of the leading parenting experts in the UK. She is the author of a best selling book My Child’s Different , which was published September 2018.

In her leisure time, she’s found on the golf course, often in Scotland, trying to compete ( in a healthy way) with her single handicapper daughter and visiting hospitals and care homes with her therapy dog Bonnie.

John Hood

John Hood, Director

John has been with The Parent Practice from the beginning, helped with the creation of the business, ran the office and was the first point of contact for clients whilst managing our IT requirements. Now John directs finance and operations, is the editor of The Parent Practice's newsletter and manages the website.

John is married to Melissa Hood and they have a daughter and two sons. He splits his time between London and Sydney with Melissa.

John was born and brought up in London and Dorset. He took a degree in Civil Engineering at the University of NSW in Sydney, having moved to Australia to be with Melissa. They married in 1982, and lived in Sydney where he worked first as a civil engineer. They moved to London in 1986 and in 1991 John went back into education and took an MBA from City University, London. He then moved into finance with Chemical Bank, Chase Manhattan and JP Morgan until 2003.

John initially learned positive parenting techniques in the late 1990's when he attended The New Learning Centre. In 2009 John took the Parent Practice's facilitators training and since then has facilitated courses and workshops – particularly those for fathers. He is a warm and witty facilitator with great understanding of the male perspective on parenting.

Hilary Fyles

Hilary Fyles, Joint Office Manager

Hilary joined The Parent Practice in 2015, having previously worked mostly in the literature sector, for Arts Council England and then for the Poetry Book Society and the Poetry Society. She has a degree in French and German although her spoken language in both is somewhat rusty. Whilst her love of books remains undiminished, finding time to read has become almost impossible since the arrival of her two daughters. If you see a book in her hand these days, it’s probably going to be a parenting guide rather than the latest poetry collection! She describes motherhood as her biggest and best challenge so far and one in which she is learning on the job every day, alongside her husband, David.

Eleanor Potter

Eleanor Potter, Joint Office Manager

El joined The Parent Practice in 2010 and as Joint Office Manager she is one of the friendly and reassuring voices who answer the telephone when you call for information.

Brought up in Surrey, El has a marketing degree and she worked in several London agencies for a number of years. With a yearning to see different cultures, she took a career break and went travelling around the world. When El returned to the UK in 2010 she decided to change career to a more fulfilling line of work which led her to The Parent Practice.

El lives in Earlsfield with her husband David and two daughters, Sadie and Freya. She is also a hands-on Aunt to her nephew and niece who live close by.


Sue Kumleben

Sue Kumleben, Facilitator

Sue, originally from the US, and her South African husband Paul moved to the UK in 1992 and raised three children in London.  Sue began her career as a lawyer with a Wall Street law firm, then as Associate General Counsel for Remy Martin (America). She holds a BA(Hist) from Williams College, a JD from The University of Virginia Law School and a BSc in Voluntary Sector Organization from the London School of Economics.  

Sue joined The Parent Practice at its inception in 2004 and worked with us from then until 2017 running programmes in Chelsea/South Kensington as well as corporate and school talks all over London. In 2017 Sue spent time in the US attending the Distinguished Careers Institute at Stanford University, studying Neurodevelopment, Families and Children and Master Teaching. While at Stanford, Sue taught Stanford graduate students from over 12 countries.

Sue moved back to the UK in 2019, rejoined the team and is again running courses and private consultations in the South Kensington area.

Sue is a passionate reader and avid triathlete.

Karen Elder

Karen Elder, Facilitator

Karen has been with us since 2014 having taken the 10-week flagship course; undertaking the Facilitator’s Training; and also doing a stint running the office.

Prior to joining the company, Karen spent some 20 years in corporate finance in a variety of roles, most latterly heading the Loan Syndications department of a German bank.

Karen says she realised she had some room for improvement when 3 months after giving up work to become a “full-time” mother to her children - they asked her when they could have a new nanny?!

She lives in Barnes with her husband and twin 9 year old daughters.  She is also lucky enough to have 3 “bonus” or step children who, being a bit older, are completing their studies or taking their first steps on the employment ladder.

Karen has a particular interest in the effects of separation on families and the difficulties faced co-parenting in these challenging circumstances.

Jenny Eastwood

Jenny Eastwood, Facilitator

Jenny was introduced to The Parent Practice in 2010 when she took the Facilitators Course and then joined the team. Jenny runs classes at our Chelsea centre.

She holds a psychology degree from Bristol University and her thesis was in Child Development. Post university Jenny became a corporate finance banker and worked for Barclays and Credit Suisse, firstly in London and then in Hong Kong. She and her husband then spent five years living in Japan.

It was when she left work to bring up her four young children that her interest in psychology was reignited and she wanted to make sure that she had the right parenting tool kit to ensure that the children were brought up in a calm but fun household She and her husband wanted to provide an environment that enabled the children to grow into capable, independent people, with a strong sense of self-worth, a passion for life and an ability to relate well to other people.

Jenny follows the latest child development research closely, reads extensively and attends many parenting related courses. She has a particular interest in individual personality traits and how certain characteristics can be nurtured for lifelong success and happiness, particularly in an environment of high academic pressure.

Juliet Richards

Juliet Richards, Facilitator

Juliet has been on the team at The Parent Practice since 2008, after taking the Positive Parenting Course in 2004 and then the Facilitators Course in 2008.

Juliet was born and brought up in Kent, and was educated there and in London. She now lives in Clapham with her husband Paul and their two sons. She worked at various companies in different roles, before joining a PR firm in the City. From there, she worked in corporate banking, helping manage marketing communications programmes.

After her training with The Parent Practice, she realised what an impact the techniques and ideas were going to have on her family and others. Creating a positive atmosphere, and seeing how she could help them behave well and find their way in the world, was very different to feeling her responsibility was simply to keep them out of trouble. As her sons have grown, the parenting skills have continued to enable her to feel that she is on the same side as her boys and her and her husband are able to actively pass on the values that they feel are important.

She leads classes in the Clapham centre and is an adept facilitator with a clear, empathetic and humorous style.

Victoria Markou

Victoria Markou, Facilitator

Victoria came along to The Parent Practice whilst pregnant with her second child to take part in the 10 week Positive Parenting Course. She was so inspired that she took up a voluntary assistant’s role in 2010.  Victoria then completed the Facilitators Course in 2012 and is currently Facilitator in our Wimbledon centre. 

Victoria was born and grew up in South West London, where she still lives, and is married with two boys. Before The Parent Practice, Victoria worked for seven years in advertising before going back into education to complete a degree in Psychology and Counselling at the University of Surrey.  After this, Victoria completed her PGCE and became a primary school teacher in London for 3 years.

Her voluntary work has included working with children and families of inmates at Wandsworth Prison, a Play Therapist at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, a teacher at Evelina Children’s Hospital and an Appeals Panel Member for Wandsworth Council for families appealing against decisions to exclude or refuse admission from school.

Victoria is particularly interested in raising boys, Sensory Processing Disorder, Dyspraxia and Asperger Syndrome.  She is a much loved facilitator with huge empathy and concern for her clients, for whom nothing is too much trouble.

Ann Magalhaes

Ann Magalhaes, Facilitator New York

Ann took the Positive Parenting Course in 2008.  After a few classes she saw the positive impact that the new skills were having within her family.   While she didn't feel she was experiencing significant challenges with her daughter, she did know that she could definitely be parenting in a more effective way. She continues to feel she can manage all the challenges that each stage of parenting comes her way. 

Ann was born in England, and grew up in Canada where she studied Japanese Language and Literature and Spanish Studies at the University of Toronto.  She started teaching English in Japan, then spent 6 years working for Mitsubishi Corporation in Toronto. She completed her MBA at the Richard Ivey School of Business in Canada.

She moved to London in 2001, with her husband, Gus, and worked in organisational transformation until the birth of her daughter. In July 2013, the Magalhaes family moved to Rye, New York where Ann has launched The Parent Practice USA.

An avid reader of books, articles and blogs about parenting, Ann also maintains our social media presence.  She brings a wealth of experience and creativity to her work - and a natural kindness, warmth and empathy to her classes and workshops.

Quick links

The Parent Practice GuideJoin Us Now!

Be kept informed about events, offers and top tips for parents. And get a FREE parenting guide.

Join Now


68 Thurleigh Road
London SW12 8UD

Phone: 0208 673 3444

Email: team@theparentpractice.com