Dr Toni Pikoos | Clinical Psychologist
BSc (Hons), PhD (Clinical Psychology)
I am a Clinical Psychologist who adopts a warm and empathic approach, working collaboratively with clients to overcome their difficulties, achieve their goals and promote their unique strengths.
With a PhD specialising in Body Dysmorphic Disorder and prior experience in an eating disorder treatment program, I am passionate about working with individuals to develop their confidence, as well as healthy and sustainable relationships with their bodies, food, exercise and ageing.
I have experience working with adolescents and adults with a variety of difficulties including:
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
- Eating Disorders and individuals wanting to improve their relationship with food
- Individuals wanting to improve their relationship with food in a non-diet framework
- Body image concerns
- Consultation and assessment prior to undergoing cosmetic procedures
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Self-esteem issues
- Anxiety conditions (generalized anxiety, panic attacks, health anxiety)
- Social anxiety disorder
- Psychosis and auditory hallucinations
- Grief and loss
- School and workplace stress
- Relationship difficulties
My preferred treatment modality is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), whereby I assist clients to modify their unhelpful thinking styles leading to positive behavioural outcomes. I also like to draw on Compassion-Focused Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to empower clients to identify their values and goals and to enhance the meaning in their lives.
I am also trained in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – Enhanced (CBT-E) and Family Based Therapy (FBT) for eating disorders, as well as Specialist Supportive Clinical Management (SSCM) for the treatment of anorexia nervosa. I am a Health at Every Size (HAES) aligned practitioner, which means that I practice within a weight-inclusive framework and promote and celebrate body diversity. I will make sure to discuss these treatment options with you to work out what might be the best approach, tailored to your individual preferences.
As well at working at Foundation Psychology, I am the co-founder of ReadyMind, which conducts psychological assessments for people seeking cosmetic procedures. I also offer one-off assessments and supportive decision-making sessions for clients who are considering cosmetic surgery, or who have been recommended to have a psychological evaluation by their cosmetic practitioner. These sessions can include a report back to the cosmetic practitioner, or the option of further psychological treatment if it may be of benefit. To learn about my work at ReadyMind, see the Dr Toni Pikoos profile here.
An interview with Dr Toni Pikoos
Why did you become a psychologist?
For me, it was a bit of a journey to becoming a psychologist. I always knew that I wanted to do something in a helping profession. And I was quite drawn to medicine initially. When I thought more about studying medicine and started doing the course, I found that I would be limited in the work that I would be doing with patients and seeing them for really short appointments. What I really wanted was to build relationships with my clients over a longer period of time. Psychology was the best way to do that, where we’ve got to have these long term relationships and I could see the clients develop, change, grow over the course of therapy. So that’s what really drew me to psychology.
What are you passionate about in Psychology?
I’m really passionate about working with body image concerns. That’s across the whole spectrum. I like to work with people who want to improve their relationship with food and their bodies just in general, but also with people who have body dysmorphic disorder where they might become really preoccupied or concerned about things that they don’t like about themselves or their physical appearance and eating disorders as well. So my main area is using a whole range of different treatment approaches to improve people’s body image and the way they see themselves.
What gives you a sense of satisfaction?
I really like to see how clients are challenging themselves in between sessions. I find it really, really satisfying and enjoyable when clients come in and tell me all the difficult and challenging things they tried between our sessions; whether that’s wearing a new outfit they’ve been afraid to wear, going to a birthday party or going on a date for the first time in a long time. I love being able to hear about their successes and the things they learned through those challenging experiences. Also being able to celebrate both small wins and big wins together.
What can a client expect in their first session?
So in the first session, it’s really about us getting to know each other. I want to hear a little bit more about the client’s story and where they’ve come from and how they’ve ended up here. Also a discussion of their goals and what they want to gain and work on during treatment. But it’s also for them to get a feel for me as well. To see if they like my therapeutic style, if we’re going to work well together. If so, we discuss a plan for treatment, how that could look like moving forward and the type of work that we could do together. I use a whole range of different therapy approaches. We would usually discuss what’s actually going to be best for that individual client and what’s going to help them to achieve their goals. The other thing that’s really important for me during the first session is to make sure that the client really feels comfortable. I know lots of people who are coming to therapy for the first time, particularly when it’s addressing issues like body image, they have a lot of shame and embarrassment about these issues and they might never have spoken about it before. It’s really important to me that we take it at the pace that the client needs. If there are topics they don’t want to talk about at the beginning, that’s fine. We’ll cover whatever they’re willing to cover and make sure they feel really comfortable and they’re in a safe, non-judgmental environment.