EMDR with the Autism Spectrum and ADHD – Sat Nov 28 2020 online with Caroline van Diest

The EMDR Association UK’s regional East Anglia group were thrilled to welcome Consultant and Trainer colleague Caroline van Diest to take us through how, as EMDR therapists, to recognise and work with clients on the Autistic Spectrum and with ADHD.

Caroline is an EMDR Europe Approved Trainer/Consultant
A BABCP Cognitive Behaviour Therapist
A Registered Learning Disabilities Nurse (RNLD)
MSc in Applied Social Learning Theory & Counselling

‘EMDR with Autism Spectrum and ADHD’ 28.11.2020

Presented by Caroline van Diest, and reported by Ushma Patel

On Saturday 28th November, 232 delegates came together online for another extravaganza of stimulating information and enjoyable learning about ASD and ADHD and Aspergers from the comfort of our homes. Caroline had already sent us a plethora of handouts and information: with pen and paper ready and a hot cuppa we started the event at 930am.

For those who couldn’t attend on the day, the event was recorded and shared with everyone who signed up for the event, alongside handouts, slides and certificates with six EMDR UK Association CPD points.

Caroline is an EMDR Europe-Approved Trainer/Consultant, a BABCP Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, and a Registered Learning Disabilities Nurse (RNLD. She has an MSc in Applied Social Learning Theory & Counselling and is one of EMDR UK’s leading specialists on ASD.

Aims for the day were to introduce us to the history of clinical and social understandings around ASD and ADHD and considerations of the overlaps between them, as well as to outline how appropriate adaptations can be made in EMDR, working on the traumatic impact on relationships with self and the world using case examples and powerful personal stories.

Caroline also invited us to develop an understanding of what we need identify and tackle when working with clients incorporating functioning, diagnosis and insight.

At the outset, we learned about the challenges of language around this experience. The DSM has moved what used to be called Aspergers into the diagnosis of Autism, on the high-functioning end of what’s now widely understood as The Spectrum. And as Caroline emphasised, not everyone is happy with that switch, so she like many others in this field was happy to continue to use the term Aspergers as well as Autism.

Caroline shared thought-provoking videos to demonstrate what it’s like living with Autism and how communication is perceived by others.

Many myths were busted like: you can still process if a client doesn’t like eye contact, or if all these myths were true how do therapists who have Autism do their job?

The answer? A brilliant opportunity to hear from our own Mark Brayne who courageously spoke about his own experience with Aspergers, with a diagnosis confirmed very much later in life.

Archant (EDP/Mark Bullimore)

Listening to Mark’s account gave us a moving insight in to how, as he put it, “lying is very hard, almost impossible”, and with that the impact this has on a life informed by the often urgent desire to “whistle-blow” or speak out with frank honesty.

The struggle and loneliness of Mark’s journey with Aspergers resonated with everyone listening, including what he termed Grelief, as the bittersweet mixture of grief and relief upon having the diagnosis confirmed.

Mark discussed the upsides and the downsides of being Aspergers, which can bring a marked ability to learn different languages (with their reassuring grammar and rules), but also the challenge of emotional responses to different cultures.

It was with a touch of affectionate envy that we heard how well EMDR’s framework of protocols and focus meshes with Mark’s internal experience and appreciation of structure, supporting a sometimes surprisingly effective and rewarding implementation of EDMR in practice.

Mark also shared his experience of using an online self-assessment questionnaire, initially for himself and now with clients. The Autism-Spectrum Quotient Test was developed by Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at the Cambridge Autism Research Centre, and is a 50-item questionnaire which helps identify if ASD might be part of a client’s story.

With a powerful and thought-provoking Guardian newspaper video called ‘The Party: a Virtual Experience of Autism’ e were then transported into the mind of a young teenager called Layla experiencing autism-typical overwhelm at a birthday party thrown for her by her parents, as yet unaware of how intensely distressing and confusing these events can be for someone on the spectrum.

After the break, we were fortunate again to be offered incredible insight to what it’s like living with Autism, through listening to the experiences of two more guest speakers: young Olivia and her mum Alexandra.

Olivia courageously articulated how her ‘mind works a lot faster than her mouth’, the impact on her mood and social interaction.

As well as stressors like tactile triggers or environmental triggers, she explained how others ‘don’t get me and then tell me I’m wrong’, further impairing her functioning and with the lack of validation and understanding leaving her feeling rejected.

Olivia spoke about how EMDR has been really helpful with her sensory issues, relationships and emotions, although not yet on trauma, given how being Autistic can leave people feeling intensely vulnerable.

Olivia stressed the importance of slowly working towards the trauma, and the need for a foundation of strong therapeutic alliance between the therapist and the client, working first on everyday stressors first.

Reiterating how validation and trust are key to helping a client feel safe, where ADHD is in the mix (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), quite often a client can’t hold an image in their head for long time, because the mind is so busy with other distractions. It can at these times be helpful if the therapist checks in to see if the mind has wandered, so that focus can be brought back on to the target image.

We were so grateful for the opportunity to hear about Olivia’s experience and the difficulties she has to manage – inspiring to see such a passionate, bright and bubbly personality gain five million views on TikTok, raising awareness of ASD and ADHD.

Her mum Alexandra talked about the lack of support from core mental health providers and the impact on the family as well as on Olivia. The small things we take for granted, such as shopping in supermarkets, can become traumas in themselves, requiring parents to learn on the job, as it were, in supporting their child through these experiences.

It was clear to us that as a parent it’s not an easy situation to manage when you don’t have all the information, experience and support at your disposal. Naivety from schools and medical professionals can be hard and challenging, and Alexandra offered us words of wisdom when working with families, to “make sure your family members are doing lots of self-care, so they can cope with all the varied roles they have from parent to professional’.

Self-care is of course critical for all these varying stressors and crisis situations. We gained enormous insight from Alexandra, as she opened a window into the world of an ASD or ADHD child’s parent. Her patience and strength were most moving.

After lunch we discussed in smaller groups how our practice in EMDR’s eight- phase protocol would be influenced by what we had learned in the morning. Delegates were passionate and collaborative, sharing pdfs and links to information. It was inspiring to see us all come together and share our knowledge and experiences as well as resources on using EMDR with this client group.  

In the afternoon we saw a video of a supervision session between Caroline and a therapist who discussed the assessment and formulation phases of working with an ASD client, as well as a video of a client who discussed her lived experience and EMDR therapy.

The latter gave us an understanding of not only the client’s account of living with ASD but also being able to see their body language, tone of voice and facial expressions while they described some highly emotive content. We could see the client’s window of tolerance (WoT) in response to a variety of open-ended questions that Caroline was asking, and the client’s perspective on the various phases of the protocol.

Caroline summarised the day by bringing us back to EMDR’s essential eight phases.

She reminded us that in history taking, the client might not get implicit memories, so a floatback might not help. It was therefore important to ask more direct questions.

In phase two, the safe place could be too abstract for some, so it could be helpful to focus on special interests instead.

Caroline emphasised the importance of identifying a client’s WoT, and their repertoire of resources, especially given that with this client group there may not be the verbal and nonverbal cues a therapist is used to noticing.

Caroline talked us through the complexities of identifying positive cognitions and of assessing SUDS with ASD and ADHD clients, who might be reluctant to choose the number ‘Zero’, preferring instead to use ‘Neutral’.

In phase five, installation of the PC, it could be useful to use visual descriptions instead of the VoC Likert scale.

Caroline stressed the importance in phase eight, re-evaluation, to be very clear with the client, what when we say image, we mean memory, so the therapist can check whether the whole memory has been processed.

Caroline’s overall message was to ‘test and tweak’ the aspects of the eight-phase protocol to suit the client’s needs, based on an awareness and understanding of ASD and ADHD.

Caroline’s hope for the day was that we leave with a fire in our belly to work with this client group, often get neglected and misunderstood.

I can honestly say that after a thought-provoking and inspiring day…we certainly did!

Caroline and her then fresh-out-the-oven Dutch husband Rene on their wedding day in 2018… A day of truly bilateral joy…

Using EMDR Online, plus EMDR with Intergenerational Trauma | Mark Brayne | Online Saturday April 25, 2020.

Archant (EDP/Mark Bullimore)

Saturday April 25 2020, 0930-1630

£55 for members of the EMDR Association UK, £60 for non-members.

6 EMDR Association UK CPD Points.

With the Corona Virus shutting things down across the world, this event was held online, exploring not just EMDR for intergenerational trauma, but also the basic principles of delivering EMDR online rather than face-to-face.

Continue reading “Using EMDR Online, plus EMDR with Intergenerational Trauma | Mark Brayne | Online Saturday April 25, 2020.”

Derek Farrell on EMDR with Unspoken Trauma. Chelmsford, Saturday, November 30 2019.

The EMDR Association’s East Anglia group was delighted to welcome our very own Derek Farrell, former Association President and international expert on all things EMDR, for a classic regional networking day with a special focus on working with what he terms Unspoken Trauma.

Derek spent the morning at this new venue for us, Chelmsford’s cricket ground, taking us through the standard, structured EMDR approach for clients who can’t or aren’t ready to share specific and often intimate details of what happened to them.

“Certain trauma experiences have ‘no voice’,” says Derek, “often when traumas involve deep-rooted shame, or fear of retribution”.

The workshop (Powerpoint handout here) outlined some of the key components of ‘unspoken trauma’, relating for example to child abuse, gender-based violence, conflict, atrocities and human rights violations.

Continue reading “Derek Farrell on EMDR with Unspoken Trauma. Chelmsford, Saturday, November 30 2019.”

Friend and Foe in Equal Measure: Pam Virdi Inspires at Norwich Cathedral, April 27 2019

By James Thomas

Pam Virdi in full flow…

The EMDR Association’s East Anglia Regional Group was delighted on Saturday 27th April 2019 to host Pam Virdi at Norwich Cathedral’s Hostry for an expansive one-day training session on using EMDR with eating disorders.

The presentation was an ideal introduction for EMDR therapists new to working with this often-misunderstood client population, and a powerful refresher for a good number of very experienced professionals in the room – their presence a tribute to Pam’s reputation as a first-rate trainer in this field.

Pam began by highlighting the need for clients with eating disorders, especially anorexia and bulimia, to commit to restoring sensible weight and eating patterns as essential to recovery, given how many come to therapy wanting change without letting go of their patterns.

Therapy for eating disorders, Pam made clear, isn’t just about psychological wellbeing, but very much also about physical health. Continue reading “Friend and Foe in Equal Measure: Pam Virdi Inspires at Norwich Cathedral, April 27 2019”

Healing Dissociation with EMDR Therapy: A Practical Workshop with Dr Jamie Marich. Ely, Saturday Feb 9, 2019.

By Ushma Patel

The EMDR Association’s East Anglia Regional Group was delighted on Saturday 9th February 2019 to welcome Dr Jamie Marich back to the UK on a further training visit since her last visit to us in April 2017 where she inspired us in Norwich with a day on Making EMDR Simple.

Jamie is rapidly establishing a reputation as one of EMDR’s leading international trainers. This time we were lucky to experience a brand-new workshop debunking myths around dissociation and giving us a practical and sensitive orientation to how the dissociative mind works.

The plan for the day was to participate in a highly interactive workshop that would give us a primer on working with grounding skills in the stabilisation and preparation phases of EMDR, with special attention given to using expressive arts and mindfulness-focused strategies.

We were given the opportunity to our own dissociative profile and internal system of parts as an illustration of the theory of structural dissociation.

Continue reading “Healing Dissociation with EMDR Therapy: A Practical Workshop with Dr Jamie Marich. Ely, Saturday Feb 9, 2019.”

Matt Wesson inspires at EMDR East Anglia Cambridge Networking Day, Nov 17 2018

Matt at work with Quy Mill EMDR Enthusiasts

The EMDR Association’s East Anglia Regional Group was delighted on Saturday November 17 to welcome one of our community’s newer and especially inspiring trainers, Matt Wesson, to take us through his expertise on EMDR with the military and the uniformed services.

We’re experimenting with a new website design, so this is our first post here, with a brief summary of the ideas Matt shared with us, and some photos to give you an idea of how our regional networking days work. Continue reading “Matt Wesson inspires at EMDR East Anglia Cambridge Networking Day, Nov 17 2018”

Healing Dissociation with EMDR Therapy: A Practical Workshop with Dr Jamie Marich (USA). Ely, Saturday Feb 9, 2019.

Enhancing your efficacy with clients through the power of process.

Saturday February  9, 2019. 0900 for 0930 – 1630

Ely Beet Sports & Social Club,

83 Lynn Road, Ely CB6 1DE

£55 for Association members, £60 for non-members. Fee includes lunch and refreshments.

Six EMDR Association UK&I CPD Points

The EMDR UK Association’s busy East Anglia regional group is delighted to welcome Dr Jamie Marich back to the UK on a further training visit , picking up and taking forward Dr Mel Temple’s fabulous day with us in Ely in Spring 2018 on working with dissociation.

As EMDRIA-accredited Trainer and Consultant based in Ohio, USA, and author of several books on EMDR Therapy, Jamie is rapidly establishing a reputation as one of EMDR’s leading international trainers.

In April 2017 she inspired us in Norwich with a day on Making EMDR Simple, and this time, she’s bringing for the first time to the UK a brand-new workshop debunking myths around dissociation and giving us a practical and sensitive orientation to how the dissociative mind works. Continue reading “Healing Dissociation with EMDR Therapy: A Practical Workshop with Dr Jamie Marich (USA). Ely, Saturday Feb 9, 2019.”

Working with Veterans and the Uniformed Services: a Practical Workshop with Matt Wesson, Cambridge, Saturday Nov 17 2018

Handout 1, Handout 2, Handout 3, Handout 4, MILITARY TERMS

The EMDR Association’s Regional Group in East Anglia is thrilled to welcome the UK’s leading EMDR-and-the-Military trainer, Matt Wesson, for a day’s workshop with us in Cambridge on using EMDR with the uniformed services.

Sorry, but Matt’s event is now sold out with a long waiting list. New events coming soon… If you’re not already on our regional Google Group, click this link and we’ll keep you posted.

When: 1000-1630, Saturday November 17, 2018.

Where: Quy Mill Hotel (& Spa!) Church Rd, Stow cum Quy, Cambridge CB25 9AF

How much: £65 for EMDR Association UK Members, £70 for non-members.

Six EMDR Association UK CPD Points

What’s it about? Read on….

Matt’s workshop aims to provide practical ideas for understanding and working with military personnel, veterans and the uniformed services (Police, Prison Officers, Fire Service, Paramedics, Security personnel, etc).

The workshop will address the special characteristics and culture of this population and how to adapt EMDR accordingly, with an emphasis on assessment, formulation and forming a strong collaborative alliance.

Matthew has had extensive experience of working with this client group, and will use his engaging presentation style along with interactive tasks and video material to help attendees improve their skills and confidence in this area.


  • The day will be a lively mixture of teaching, interactive exercises and video material
  • It will cover relevant research.
  • Clinical obstacles and therapy techniques to help engage this sometimes-challenging population into treatment.
  • The day will discuss risk and protective factors of common cultural issues and how they impact on treatment, history taking and ideas of conceptualisations.
  • Preparation, engagement and use of specific resources will be highlighted, and blocks to and during processing will be viewed.
  • The course is suitable for all levels of experience and previous knowledge of veteran or uniformed clients is not necessary

Workshop Outline

  • Myths, Facts and the Research around Military / Uniformed Services Mental Health
  • Cultural issues
  • EMDR and combat related PTSD
  • Engaging the military/uniformed services client
  • Tailoring EMDR to this client group
  • Utilising resources

Previous feedback on this workshop: 

‘Excellent’, ‘Lots of new ideas’, ‘Great presenter’, ‘Clear and credible’, ‘Very good indeed’, ‘Clear delivery and a good case examples’, ‘Very interesting’, ‘Lively and credible’, ‘Well delivered and organised’, ‘Lots of interesting ideas I can relate to veterans work, and working with Police, Prison Officers etc’…plus many more postive comments.

Biography for Matthew Wesson 

Matt is an EMDR Europe Accredited Trainer and Consultant, and has been using EMDR within his clinical work for nearly 20 years. He is also a BABCP Accredited CBT therapist.  He works as an independent practitioner, supervisor and trainer.

Previous to that he served in the Armed Forces for 21 years delivering mental health care to serving military personnel across the UK and also including tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

He has had several articles published in peer-reviewed journals on both CBT and EMDR, and has presented at international conferences.  He has a particular interest in combat related PTSD and military mental health.  He lives in Cheshire with his young family.

Do join us, and book here.

Small Print terms:

Cancellations more than two weeks before the event will be refunded minus a £10 handling fee. Cancellations within two weeks of the event will be refunded (minus the handling fee) only if a substitute participant can be found.

Dissociation and EMDR – an Ely Masterclass from Dr Mel Temple

By Shirley Young

About 80 regional members of the East Anglia EMDR Association met at Ely Beet Factory Social Club on Saturday 27th April 2018 to explore best EMDR practice in working with dissociation.

Our expert trainer for the day was Dr Mel Temple, consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist, EMDR consultant and current clinical director and lead specialist in The Kemp Unit at The Retreat in York.

She has worked across secondary and tertiary NHS settings, with time spent also in military mental health services.The Kemp Unit at The Retreat in York is a residential setting for the stabilisation and treatment of patients with personality disorder, complex trauma and DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder).

As a general introduction Mel reflected on differences in approach to the delivery of EMDR, citing Ad De Jongh from Holland who suggests “just getting in there” in comparison with our more cautious approach in the UK. Continue reading “Dissociation and EMDR – an Ely Masterclass from Dr Mel Temple”

It’s a Kind of Magic: EMDR & The Transpersonal, Ipswich, Nov 11 2017

Ninth East Anglia EMDR Regional Networking Day

Kesgrave Community Centre, Ipswich, Saturday Nov 11, 2017

Morning Presentation by Mark Brayne, EMDR Consultant, with clients MJ and GV.

Mark began his presentation – to a capacity audience of some 70 colleagues – by reiterating the basic tenets and structure of EMDR Therapy (the eight phases, BLS, Dual Attention and Past-Present-Future) and answering the question, “What is the Transpersonal?”

He described how a transpersonal approach goes deeper than the conditioned ego to a discovery of a more enduring and essential self, and this expands our understanding of the magic of EMDR by helping clients to “break the energetic spells” that have trapped them, like Sleeping Beauty, in the emotional dysfunctions of their past.

This, and other recent developments, such as Laurel Parnell’s Attachment-Focused EMDR, are contributing to the development and expansion of EMDR.

Transpersonal EMDR emphasises the development, with the client, of a “resource team” of archetypes and qualities which can play an important part in the processing itself, either spontaneously, or when called upon by the client, using active imagination.

Other techniques include target selection via bridging from present to past; the use of creative interweaves; the transfer of consciousness (e.g from Adult State to an apparently malevolent Ego State in order to discover its benevolent intention); dreamwork; an understanding of alchemy; and the impact and processing of trans-generational trauma.

Two of Mark’s clients attending as guests, MJ and GV, described their own experience of transpersonal EMDR, and their deep healing.

Their descriptions were interwoven with clarifications from Mark on how the work expanded and “petalled”, like a flower, but always within the container of the eight-phase process, so that he and the client return to all the targets that have emerged from the work, usually enabling an appropriate completion of each session, even when the target itself needs (sometimes much) further work in future sessions.

This presentation was enthusiastically received, and MJ and GV were applauded for their courage and openness.

Following questions, and lunch, the East Anglia Group held its AGM at which, with some 30 colleagues joining in, it was agreed that the Regional Steering Group would be reconstituted, with a Chair, a Chair Elect, and the Past Chair each holding that post for one year, serving therefore for three years in all in a specific role.

A new role is also envisaged, of Web Manager and Media Secretary, with responsibility both for the website and the Google group.

Specific roles will be voted on every two years – non-specific roles will be considered annually.

The Steering Committee will consist of no more than 10 members, and for the coming year is made up of the following colleagues:

Chair – Mark Brayne; Chair-Elect  – James Thomas; Past Chair & Trauma Aid rep – Sonya Farrell; Secretary – Shirley Young; Treasurer – Joe Kearney; Richard Holborn; Morven Fyfe  (new); Lauli Moschini (new – TA volunteer).

Janet Harvey and Balbindar Mann volunteered to be standby members for the committee.

Afternoon: Sonya Farrell gave a short talk about Trauma Aid, outlining its developing role in training EMDR therapists in troubled areas of Europe and the Middle East.  Sonya encouraged us to join Trauma Aid (fee is only £15 a year).

She also referred to a sister organisation, the Trauma Response Network(TRN) recently set up to provide EMDR therapy following events in the UK such as the Manchester bombing and the Grenfell Tower disaster.

For more information about how to join Trauma Aid, or to volunteer for TRN, go to www.traumaaiduk.org (for TRN, click on “For Clinicians” then on “Volunteer for EMDR Trauma Response”.)

We then divided into six groups, to discuss issues such as mapping complex cases, working with disabilities, online therapy etc. A consultant or consultant-in-training, was present for each group.

This was followed by a very successful raffle for Trauma Aid, which raised £165, with prizes of a comprehensive library of EMDR books most generously donated by outgoing/retiring steering group member and co-founded of the regional group, Maeve Allison.

The day finished with our ever-popular consultants’ forum, which addressed details of consultants’ training; how EMDR could become more widely known; and Francine Shapiro’s latest book, due out in Feb 2018.

Dates and venues for Networking Days in 2018 were discussed, with Saturday April 28 earmarked for, it is hoped, a day with Derek Farrell on the Blind to Therapist Protocol, possibly in Ely (or Cambridge), with Saturday Nov 10 noted down for a meeting possibly in Chelmsford looking at EMDR and the military.

Continue reading “It’s a Kind of Magic: EMDR & The Transpersonal, Ipswich, Nov 11 2017”