Community Mental Health & Wellbeing - Fili Perdikaris shares her story

Fili completed her Bachelor of Science in Psychology (BSc.Psych) degree with honours at the University of NSW (UNSW) in 1990.Once she graduated at the age of 21, she started working at the ‘Community Health Centre” in Blacktown. She was part of the ‘Rehabilitation and Therapy’ team where she delivered individual and group therapy to people suffering from a variety of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, trauma and psychosis. Social support and social cohesion can be very powerful for those undergoing treatment for mental health issues and she found that providing group therapy sessions supported by individual counselling to be very effective.

In her 4th year of working at the Community Health Centre, she was promoted to ‘Acting Team Leader’ managing a group of allied health professionals as well as continuing her passionate work with clients. Despite the challenges of being such a young manager, she embraced the job and found that being in a leadership role allowed her to grow not only as a manager but also as a person.

Fili’s next role took her to the St. John of God Psychiatric Hospital in Burwood which was run as a secular treatment facility. It included an out-patients unit for provision of group therapy which functioned as a place for clients to participate in group therapy treatment programs as a transition process from hospital to the community. Fili was responsible for developing, coordinating and facilitating the group program as well as seeing clients for individual counselling.

The groups she was involved in ranged from cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and mindfulness groups for anxiety, depression and psychosis to psycho-dynamic treatments for communication and inter-personal skills. She was also instrumental in pioneering and co-facilitating alternative therapies including art, music and creative writing.

For those of you who aren’t aware, creative therapies and in particular music therapy have been proven through extensive research to improve cognitive, psychological and emotional well-being for a number of mental health issues, as well as physical illnesses such as alzheimers. Art and music can function as spaces for non-verbal expression and in this way assist people to heal and grow as well as being vehicles for calming and soothing processes.

Fili’s professional and personal experience with music therapy led her to start singing in the Sydney Threshold Choir (STC) allowing her to pursue her passion for giving back to the community through voluntary work and experiencing and witnessing the healing power of music firsthand. The choir is involved in singing by the bedside of those on the ‘thresholds’ of life including loss and death in nursing homes and palliative care units. They are also invited to share the gift of singing at various events, such as memorial services and workshops. The work of the choir is referred to as ‘kindness made audible’ Fili also continues to explore the creative and healing process of art therapy through her own participation in art classes.

After working at St John of God Psychiatric Hospital for 2 years, Fili and her husband decided to go travelling for a year. They visited a number of European countries as well as Nepal, Morocco and Japan. Fili still loves travelling, specifically to places where she can experience completely different cultures and meet inspirational and interesting people.

Once back in Australia, Fili began working at Fairfield Community Health Centre on the Child, Adult and Family team (CAFT) where she provided individual as well as family therapy. Her work included treatment for survivors of crime and trauma, a particularly challenging and rewarding area. During this time Fili also worked at the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service (CRS) where she was involved with return to work programs for clients challenged by physical and emotional issues.

In 1997, Fili gave birth to her first child and went back to work part time at CRS 3 months later and was then blessed with a second child 18 months later, continuing to work at CRS for another 5 years.

Once her children were in school, Fili started working in private practice based at St George Medical Practice 3 days per week. She saw clients suffering from PTSD, trauma, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and peri-natal presentations. Fili also began working with couples in relationship counselling. Fili used her holistic treatment style of a psychodynamic framework within which mindfulness practices, Schema Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and attachment theory are combined to guide treatment in accordance with the presenting issues of the client(s).

Her practice still focuses on helping her clients cope with a variety of mental health issues and she also offers couples counselling and family therapy. Her work over the past 28yrs in community health, psychological rehabilitation, psychiatric hospitals, and private practice have led to a wealth of experience which has enhanced Fili’s passion for practicing as a psychologist as well as evolving and growing personally.

The benefits of having a psychologist to help you through troubled times is understated and I encourage you all to reach out to Fili for guidance and support should you or a family member need it. All her sessions are confidential and every patient is treated with care and respected in their unique journey towards health and wellbeing.

You can contact Fili directly on 0448 355 551 or by emailing her on filiperdikaris@hotmail.com . Her website details are www.filiperdikaris.com.au and her ShireWomen Business Member page can be viewed here.

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