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Who are you?
My name is Debbie but I'm known as Debi because someone beat me to my own name online!
I am a psychotherapist and member of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (MBACP). You can contact me by clicking here.
I am the co-founder of cosmeticsupport.com - an independent information and support group for private elective aesthetic patients (cosmetic patients). As a co-founder and member of the BACP, I provide emotional support and information to create well-informed patients with realistic expectations.
I was an invited member of the Expert Reference Group of Health Education England (NWL) tasked with creating the new Qualification Regulations.
Cosmeticsupport is a member of the Be Real Campaign (formerly known as the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image). This group recommend our work in their publication after I gave evidence at the Palace of Westminster. You can see the recommendations on pages 45 and 53.
Above all, I am here to support cosmetic patients through their journey.
What is cosmeticsupport.com?
Cosmeticsupport is an independent emotional support service for cosmetic patients. We do not draw a false line between surgical and non-surgical procedures because in many cases a patient will be having both surgical and non-surgical procedures. We do try to draw a clear line wherever possible between cosmetic patients and reconstructive aesthetic patients because we feel that these different surgeries represent different psychological perspectives. Not enough support is available for the purely cosmetic patient and our goal is to address that issue.
Do you offer referrals?
We are not here to decide which practitioner is right for you. Nor can we make recommendations. We are here to help you become well-informed with realistic expectations. We offer individual sessions or group sessions where you can meet other patients or potential patients to discuss your situation with. All groups are moderated to ensure that no sales or referral commission is ever made.
Are you a patient advisor?
Most patient advisors you will meet online or in a clinic are marketing experts. These are people employed by clinics to bring in business, i.e., YOU. This type of patient advisors is not generally trained in any type of emotional support and will not be independent because they will be working on commission. We are proud to say we are NOT patient advisors. We are INDEPENDENT of all sales and commission.
When did cosmeticsupport.com
January 14, 2000
Who is the other Co-founder?
Arthur J Anderson, PhD, CPsychol, AFBPsS, CSci is the co-founder
If you are a psychotherapist, why do you call yourself a counsellor?
I believe counsellors and psychotherapists do similar jobs. My awards say Psychotherapist but I am eligible to call myself a counsellor if I choose.
Why did you set up cosmeticsupport.com?
Nobody else is providing independent emotional support. Sir Bruce Keogh recommended an Ombudsman and counselling is the nearest thing we have to that. I needed support for my surgery and I guess so do others so here I am. I want to alert patients to the misleading nature of some of the marketing in the industry in order to avoid costly and life-changing mistakes.
Have you had cosmetic surgery?
YesandNo. I was left with a scar on my breast after NHS.surgery to remove a benign lump. The solution was to insert breast implants to move the scar by stretching the skin. My surgery overlaps the fine line between reconstructive and cosmetic. I also previously had a septo-rhinoplasty. Again, a surgery that was part functional, part cosmetic. I recently had a face-lift.
Are you planning future surgeries?
INot in the foreseeable future.
Are some people addicted to cosmetic surgery?
I am not sure if addiction is the right word to describe what is happening with people in cosmetic surgery. I think advertising has lost its sense of social responsibility causing despair and anxious behaviour in the public. There will always be people prone to obsessive compulsive behaviour with a perfectionist narrative.
Can you help support those that feel they are addicted?
In most cases of 'cosmetic surgery addiction', other issues will also be at play. Poor marketing would like us to think that addiction is similar to BDD. If you think you may be addicted or suffer from BDD, please contact me for an initial chat.
Can you support friends and family?
I believe that friends and family are often silent about their need for support. We are happy to offer them much needed support when necessary and have provided them with their own page on this site. It can be difficult for friends and family to know how to support a loved one in a recovery.
Do you use CBT?
In the private sector where most cosmetic patients are, we have the luxury of using an integrative approach for individual patients. My experience allows me to draw appropriately from many theories to support each patient individually. I like the existential approach that looks at the 'meaning of life' and I use this wherever possible. If you want to find out more about this, please drop me a line.
Should the delicate art of emotional support be left to aesthetic practitioners?
The mind and body deserve their own space. Emotions are sensitive and delicate. Patients see practitioners as people who can 'fix' them with a scalpel or a syringe. They do not see counsellors this way and can concentrate on their emotions better. Counsellors should not offer aesthetic procedures and aesthetic practitioners should not offer emotional support. They should however offer the option of referral to everyone.
What is Emotional Consent?
Just as the surgeon asks for physical consent, a counsellor would ask for emotional consent. Cosmetic surgery is uniquely mind and body and therefore both consents should be obtained.
What happens if a patient refuses to speak to a counsellor?
Nothing. There is no law requiring you to speak to a counsellor or a psychologist. It is a personal choice but definitely allows for a broader understanding.
Why is emotional support important?
Independent emotional support is there to protect patients from misleading advertising and misleadingly labelled 'patient advisors'. The internet is risky when looking for someone to talk to. Who are you talking to? People don't tell you if they have hidden commercial/referral agendas. As an Independent Emotional Support provider and Members of the BACP, I abide by a code of ethics and will not put profit first.
What is the difference between psychology and counselling in relation to cosmetic surgery?
It is complex to explain but very briefly - psychological products such as assessments, tools and/or screening are there to help surgeons make a choice about a patient. We believe the need is the other way around and that patients need to make choices about practitioners. Counselling helps patients make well-informed choices. Here is a blog I wrote about this:
.Is a pre-op breast implant conversation a feminist issue?
YES - please read my blog: http://www.cosmeticsupport.com/my-blog/breast-implants-a-feminist-issue
How do you feel about women discussing breast implants with male therapists?
The fact that most surgeons are male can increase the personal discomfort of undressing during a consultation.
Isn't counselling supposed to be non-gender bias?
Yes it is.
Is it ok to have emotional support with someone who promotes products in the industry?
No. Independent counselling is the best way to ensure that profits are not put before patients. If product sales are involved, you can bet you will be a product to them too. No. No. No.
Do you believe that all patients should have counseling before a procedure?
No. I believe that all patients should be offered the opportunity to speak to an experienced independent source of support. This multi-million pound cosmetic business has created many sales gurus that may confuse your choices more than clarify. We need your support to stop this. Part of your research must be internal - to look inside and ask yourself the right questions. Sales and advertising may put profit before patients. I would go so far as to say that the real research lies within
Do you charge for emotional support services?
You can talk to me through Zoom, Skype, email or by phone. Please contact me for pricing. We offer sliding scale payment if resources are a problem. Please enquirie through the contact form or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Who funds Cosmeticsupport.com?
Cosmeticsupport.com has a donate button if you feel generous.
What is BDD?
BDD stands for Body Dysmorphic Disorder. It is a mental health diagnostic category first described by Italian psychiatrist Enrique Morselli over 100 years ago where a patient spends too much time worrying about an imagined flaw.
Do you believe that all patients should be psychologically screened for BDD in a cosmetic consultation?
There has been alot of scaremongering about this disorder. I believe that all patients should have the opportunity of speaking with someone who is independent and suitably qualified to determine whether they would benefit from a referral for further help. If a patient chooses not to go ahead with a referral for psychological assessment then that is their choice. We are able to offer support and referral when required.
Should ALL BDD patients be refused surgery?
No. Not all cases of BDD are the same. Each patient is unique and will have their own best course of action.
What happens if a patient is not suitable for a procedure because of BDD?
We can offer to work with them if they choose or we can offer to make referrals if they prefer. There are options and we offer them.
How do I make an appointment to see you?
You can download the letter on the About page and take it to your practitioner or you can contact me directly yourself by email: Debi@cosmeticsupport.com
Cosmeticsupport.com is a Member of the Expert Reference Group of the Health Education England/NWL Qualification Recommendations and is also a Partner of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image also known as the Be Real Campaign. Our sister site is called cosmeticsurgerycounselling.com
Does the industry support you in what you do?
The industry prefer patients to be assessed for the mental health disorder Body Dysmorphic Disorder. We disagree with this. An unhappy patient is not necessarily a patient with a mental health disorder.
Do surgeons subscribe to your services?
Although we have been providing service since Jan 2000, the industry prefers psychological assessment rather than counselling. What do you think?
What can be done to make the industry hear this message?
Patient power is where the change will lay.
What is the Buddy System?
The Buddy System is for patients to meet one another to talk about their experience. You can register to be included in the Buddy System. We hold regular live events and online events to meet like-minded people. Please fill out our contact form with the heading Surgery Buddy
What is a Workshop?
A workshop is a meeting that we facilitate for patients (or surgeons or both) to come along and meet and share with one another. It is an informal way to create well-informed patients considering cosmetic procedures. Friends and family may attend with permission of patients. Advocacy can be arranged.