Our Approach

At Melbourne Headache Centre, all our practitioners are highly trained in the Watson Headache® Approach, and are among the most experienced Watson Headache® practitioners in the world. This means more sustainable results in less treatments.

This is the only hands-on technique developed specifically for headache and migraine, and through our research is now indicated in nausea and vomiting disorders, as well as vestibular migraine and PPPD. It is the only manual technique with research supporting its ability to treat the underlying problem in primary headache - an overactive brainstem.

What this means for you is the approach is:

  1. Efficient - We only treat people who demonstrate a clear link between the neck and their symptoms during the assessment.
  2. Safe - No cracking/clicking/manipulation of the spine.
  3. Effective - We expect to see significant improvement in 80% of patients within 5 treatments
  4. Sustainable - We aim to discharge to self management in under 10 treatments (avg 7.5). No 'endless treatment plans'.
  5. Scientifically validated - you will understand exactly what we are doing and why based on the latest research in the field of headache and migraine.
  6. Well tolerated - we treat brain sensitivity, not 'neck stiffness'. We excel with people who have been aggravated with other practitioners treating your neck.
Migraine Breakthrough, Case Study.
Image of the trigeminal nerve and upper 3 cervical nerves converging in the brainstem region called trigemino-cervical complex known to be overactive in headache and migraine disorders. The Watson Headache Approach used at the Melbourne Headache centre decreases the underlying activity of the trigeminocervical complex.

Our technique uses the inputs in the top of the neck to calm and quieten the overstimulated brainstem - this can work regardless of how long you've had it for, what your triggers are or whether or not your neck is sore.

We treat sufferers with chronic and recurrent symptoms on a daily basis allowing us to acquire a highly developed skill set to treat difficult and sensitive cases where others may have failed. Working exclusively with primary disorders related to brainstem overactivity, we boast an unparalleled depth of understanding about how the neck and symptoms it produces interacts with other key areas of the migraine puzzle such as sleep, diet, exercise and stress. Rather than a 'jack-of-all-trades and master of none' approach, if there are other key areas that require attention we will find an appropriate professional for you.

From the first week of treatment we introduce the tools you will require for successful self-management. Once we have established changes in the neck we aim to minimise our 'hands on' role as soon as possible.

Our initial treatment program consists of a maximum of 5 sessions, during which we expect to see significant changes. We then move over 1-2 sessions to a self-management program, allowing you to take control of the long term management of your condition.


Traditional approaches to treating the neck are typically limited to either stretching a stiff joint, or strengthening the muscles around the neck. These have a prominent role in neck pain, and initial presentations of conditions like cervicogenic headache, where the 'neck pain' is the most prominent feature, with the headache being secondary. Unfortunately, when applied in the same manner to migraine and related brainstem overactivity disorders, these approaches can be too heavy handed causing aggravation, and at best, may offer short term relief.

C2 Cervical Spine and brain highlighted

Migraine and related disorders are not 'simple' conditions driven by excess pain in the cervical joints. They are complex disorders producing a vast array of symptoms other than headache and neck pain including nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness and sleep disturbance. They are characterised by an overactive brainstem - like a coffee cup that is already 3/4 full when you start your day. In simple terms, the Watson Headache® Approach helps to empty out the cup. Groundbreaking research from Dean Watson's PhD demonstrated that by applying the approach he developed, the normally overactive nociceptive (pain induced) blink reflex returns to normal - in other words this technique decreases the overactivity in the brainstem.

Our Process

Free Pre-assessment Consultation

Discuss your symptoms and help decide on whether or not treatment of your headache or migraine might be suitable using our techniques. We do not recommend appointments to everyone who call, only those in whom a high likelihood of success is predicted based on information obtained during the telephone consultation. ​

Initial Assessment

During the 90 minute initial assessment we conduct a thorough assessment including detailed history, safety screening and perform a key clinical test to determine if your neck is causing your headaches or migraines. In 80% of cases it is and we start treatment.

Treatment Program

We expect to see significant changes to your headache and migraine symptoms within 2 weeks. If you experience no significant improvement in your headache and migraine symptoms, we stop your treatment.

Self Management

Self management is at the heart of the Melbourne Headache Centre Approach. On completion of your treatment program, we arm you with the tools you'll need to maintain your neck .