Alex Clarke

Alex Clarke DPsych is a clinical and health psychologist specialising in the management of body image anxiety and altered appearance. Alex set up a dedicated psychology service, embedded within a plastic surgery unit and working exclusively with plastic surgery patients. She ran for this for 15 years, at the Royal Free Hospital in London, with the aim of better understanding the relationship between psychological factors and visible appearance and to provide an integrated approach to achieve the best outcomes for patients. During this period, she provided clinical input to many hundreds of patients.

Committed to clinically relevant research and dissemination, she has published over 100 papers and book chapters and is a regular speaker at conferences and seminars. Recently, her work with researchers at the Centre for Appearance Research, where she is a visiting professor, has included the development and evaluation of PEGASUS, an intervention designed to support women undergoing breast reconstruction.

She also works closely with Professor Rumsey to develop bespoke training packages, such as those developed to support PAT, for surgeons, dermatologists, nurses, psychologists and other professions responsible for the management of body image issues in healthcare environments.  Alex is an honorary life member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS).

Nichola Rumsey

Nichola Rumsey, OBE, PhD is Professor Emerita in Psychology at the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK.  A Health Psychologist by training, she founded the Centre for Appearance Research at UWE in 1992 and was a Director until 2018.  Nichola has an international reputation for her research into the psychology of appearance and has published widely in the field.  She is a highly experienced speaker, trainer & mentor.  Nichola has participated in several EU-funded projects relating to the psychology of appearance and with Martin Persson, led the EU-funded COST Action IS1210 “Appearance Matters” (a network of researchers and practitioners from 35 European countries) from 2013-2017.  Nichola was appointed Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in 2016 for services to people with disfigurement.  She is an Honorary Life Member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), the Craniofacial Society of Great Britain & Ireland & the South African Burns Society.  Nichola currently works as a Consultant Research Psychologist in Australia, Europe & the UK 
For further details see

Martin Persson

Martin Persson is a Professor of Health Sciences at Kristianstad University, Sweden. He has considerable experience coordinating and managing over 50 international projects and has attracted over €28 million in funding to support psychosocial, health and educational activities. His research experience over the last 20 years ranges from epidemiological to qualitative studies. One of his primary research interests is working with the impact of having visible differences or negative body image in relation to psychosocial and public health aspects. He has extensive knowledge of working with socially disadvantaged groups and specialises in the methodological and pedagogical development of courses and training programs ranging from basic to advanced levels in psychology, medicine, public health, and health education. Over the years, he has trained over 2000 healthcare professionals in areas such as body image and managing the psychosocial expectations of treatment in reconstructive and aesthetic procedures. He has a Ph.D. in Medicine and master’s degrees in Public Health and Psychology. His research has been published in academic peer-reviewed journals. Over the last 20 years, he facilitated a variety of keynotes, lectures, workshops, and symposiums for professionals, students, and users in his areas of expertise in Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. He is a Smile Train Research & Innovation Advisory Council member and a board member of the European Cleft Organisation.

The Australasian Foundation for Plastic Surgery (AFPS) is a not-for-profit organisation, a company limited by guarantee and a Public Benevolent Institution registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. Our mission is to support excellence, safety and integrity in plastic and reconstructive surgery.  

The Australasian Foundation for Plastic Surgery uses an evidence-based approach and works closely with its partners and stakeholders to develop and deliver innovative, targeted and sustainable programs that aim to make a real difference to people’s lives. Our focus on clinical excellence and the best possible care for patients, underpins our mission to tackle community-wide health issues. The Foundation fosters a culture of innovation for the advancement of medical knowledge.  

AFPS Programs include:

-Fostering Medical Research by providing seed grants;
-Sharing Clinical Knowledge by initiating an Australasian Journal of Plastic Surgery and sponsoring guest lectures and travelling fellowships; 
-Promoting Skills for Excellence by identifying gaps in education and training to build capacity with a range of health care providers;
-Supporting registry science through funding the development of the Australian Breast Device Registry, the International Collaboration of Breast Device Registry Activities, the Australian Hand Differences Register and the ANZ Burns Registry. 

AFPS Outreach Programs include the Remote Wound Program and the Body Image Program.   The Remote Wound program is a face to face, place-based training program in remote communities in the Top End of Australia. Volunteer Plastic Surgeons run workshops and clinics to build the capacity and up-skill health care providers in the assessment and management of wounds in remote Indigenous communities.  

The Body Image Program acknowledges that dissatisfaction with body image is a growing issue in Australia and around the world. To achieve best practice standards of care and safety, prospective patients should be assessed to establish their profile of relative psychological vulnerability and resilience. In close collaboration with our partners Triskelion, Professor Emerita Nichola Rumsey and Dr Alex Clarke,  the Australasian Foundation for Plastic Surgery is proud to fund the development and implementation of the Psychosocial Assessment Tool.

For further details:

Selected books

Rumsey, N., & Harcourt, D. (Eds.). (2012). Oxford handbook of the psychology of appearance. OUP Oxford.

Clarke, A., Veale, D., & Willson, R. (2012). Overcoming body image problems including body dysmorphic disorder. Hachette UK.

Clarke, A., Thompson, A. R., Jenkinson, E., Rumsey, N., & Newell, R. (2013). CBT for appearance anxiety: Psychosocial interventions for anxiety due to visible difference. John Wiley & Sons.

Selected references

Rumsey N & Clarke A (In press – 2023) The Psychology of Plastic Surgery. Chapter 3 in Plastic Surgery Eds Gurtner G, Neligan P & Pusic A. 5th Ed. Volume 1.

Persson, M. (2023). Cutting Edge-an innovative psychosocial training program for healthcare professionals who provide appearance-altering procedures. Plastic and Aesthetic Research, 10, 17.

Rumsey N & Paraskeva N (2022) Psychological Assessment of Cosmetic Surgery Patients. Chapter 12.1 pp 1335-1339. Oxford Textbook of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery Eds S. Kay, D McCombe & D. Wilks. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Rumsey, N & Diedrichs, P (2018) Part of the problem or part of the solution? The Potential for Plastic Surgeons to take a role in addressing the negative consequences of body image dissatisfaction Australasian Journal of Plastic Surgery, 1, 2, 74-84.

Persson, M., Anastassov, Y., Khater, R., Spataru, R., Nobile, F., Skuladottir, H., Nilsen, T., Rumsey, N. (2018). Cutting edge training: upskilling health professionals in psychological care for patients undergoing appearance-altering procedures. Journal of Aesthetic Nursing, 7(10), 522-529.

Paraskeva, N., Clarke, A., & Rumsey, N. (2014). The routine psychological screening of cosmetic surgery patients. Aesthetics, 28-32.

Selected International Projects

Professors Rumsey and Persson have extensively contributed to a multitude of international initiatives. The primary aim of these initiatives has been the creation of comprehensive training curricula designed for healthcare practitioners. The main areas of focus within these programs include body image perception, psychosocial complexities, and the application of psychological intervention strategies.

Face Equality: innovative training in the health, social and volunteering sectors that will empower people with disfigurements to overcome social and psychological challenges in everyday life
Erasmus+2022 key Action 2 (KA2), Strategic Partnerships. 

EUROTEQ - clinical measurement literacy for EUROpean Transparency and EQuality in health
Erasmus+2020 key Action 2 (KA2), Strategic Partnerships.  

Body Confident Mums - An Innovative Health Professionals Training Program to support maternal mental and physical health
Erasmus+ 2019 Key Action 2 (KA2), Strategic Partnerships

Health Innovation, implementation and Impact (HI3) - A functional training program on how to implement sustainable change in the health care system on a clinical level.
Erasmus+ 2018 Key Action 2 (KA2), Strategic Partnerships

Act Now - A training program development for healthcare professionals to use the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to facilitate patient adjustment to the challenges of living with a visible difference
Erasmus+ 2018 Key Action 2 (KA2), Strategic Partnerships

European Cleft and Craniofacial Initiative for Equality in Care. COST Action EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020

Cutting Edge Training: Optimising medical outcomes for patients undergoing appearance altering procedures via innovative training of health care professionals.
Erasmus+ 2017 Key Action 2 (KA2), Strategic Partnerships

Face Value: Optimising the psychosocial care for individuals with birth defects in Europe by implementing an innovative training method for staff in health care and NGO settings.
Erasmus+ 2014 Key Action 2 (KA2), Strategic Partnerships

When Looks Get in the Way: Optimising patient outcomes through the training of health care professionals.
Erasmus+ 2014 Key Action 2 (KA2), Strategic Partnerships

Appearance Matters: Cooperation of Science and Technology - EU RTD Horizon 2020 Programme.

Selected Presentations

Alex, Nichola and Martin have together conducted over 100 training workshops in 25 countries and over 115 keynote & invited addresses in 35 countries. Some of the relevant keynotes and workshops were conducted at:
British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, United Kingdom
British Association of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, United Kingdom
UK Government Dept of Health, United Kingdom
BBC & Channel 4, United Kingdom
Nuffield Council of Bioethics, United Kingdom
Australasian Foundation for Plastic Surgery, Australia
Royal College of Surgeons, United Kingdom
Harley Academy, United Kingdom
British Psychological Society, United Kingdom
British Association of Cosmetic Dermatology, United Kingdom
Australasian Society of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Australia
Nordic course in plastic surgery, Lunds University, Sweden
School of Dental Medicine, University of Zagreb, Zagreb
European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium
Smile Train IndoCleftCon 2023, Pune, India
University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
International Comprehensive Cleft Care Workshop, Brazil
Medical Faculty, University of Niš, Serbia
Utrecht University Hospital, Netherlands
Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen Univeristy, Khon Kaen, Thailand
General Hospital Papageorgiou, Thessaloniki, Greece
Osaka Dental School, Osaka, Japan
Medical University, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
The American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association's (ACPA), Atlanta, USA