Understanding and Working with Trauma and Neurodiversity in Adults: Lived Experience, Diagnostic Assessments and Therapy

19 April 20249:00am - 4:30pmLondon
  • Crisis, disaster and trauma
From £48
Male teacher in a beige jacket in front of a class
In person
Crisis, Disaster and Trauma Psychology Section

About

In this one-day conference, we hear a range of perspectives from psychologists with expertise in the fields of trauma and neurodiversity about the lived experience of trauma for neurodivergent people alongside the complexities and solutions for working with trauma and neurodiversity in diagnostic assessments and therapy. Some of our presenters are neurodivergent and share their unique perspectives on working with trauma in neurodivergent adults.

This conference is aimed at clinicians who would like to understand more about the lived experience of trauma for neurodivergent people, unpick the interplay between trauma and neurodiversity in diagnostic assessments and therapy and take away some key ideas for how they can adapt their practice to better help neurodivergent adults who have experienced trauma.

We will primarily focus on autism and ADHD in non-learning disabled adults. Alongside a range of informative talks, we will come together for a panel discussion in which delegates will have the opportunity to ask questions and reflect with all of our presenters and with each other on key themes and learning points from the day.

All delegates will receive a certificate of attendance for their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) records.

Learning objectives:

  • Understand more about the lived experience of trauma for neurodivergent people from early relationships to daily life.
  • Understand the similarities and differences between symptoms of ADHD and trauma and how to work with both in assessments and therapy.
  • Learn more about formulating trauma and neurodiversity.
  • Learn how to make adjustments to trauma-focused therapeutic work with neurodivergent people.

Accessibility and adjustments:

We want to make our conference as comfortable and accessible as possible for all delegates. We recognise that some people may benefit from adjustments to help make the day more comfortable for them, so they can get the most from the conference. We have listed below a few ways we can work together to make the conference experience better for our delegates:

  • Venue: The conference is held at the BPS Offices in London. The conference room is on an upper-level floor which is accessible by either stairs or a lift. The conference room has large windows to the outside on one side and a window to the break-out coffee area on the other side.
  • Temperature: The temperature of the conference room is controlled electronically through air-conditioning. Please feel free to bring what you need to help regulate your temperature (e.g. extra layers). We have to keep outside windows closed.
  • Lighting: There is some natural light from outside in the main conference room as well as overhead lighting which is centrally controlled. We are quite limited in our capacity to make individualised changes to the lighting, but you are welcome to bring and/or wear anything that would help you to regulate light sensitivities, such as glasses.
  • Environment: The conference is held in central London and there will be a large number of people in one space, which we know can feel overwhelming for some people. You are welcome to take breaks at any time (see below). During the presentations, the coffee space outside of the main conference room will be free for anyone who would like to move to a quieter space – we just ask you to please be thoughtful about making noise in this area when the speakers are presenting.
  • Seating: The conference seating will be hard-backed chairs laid out in rows. The speakers will be at the front of the room.
  • Breaks: We have planned breaks for coffee and lunch into the programme, but delegates are free to take additional breaks anytime throughout the day. If you think you might benefit from additional breaks, you may like to sit on an aisle seat to make leaving and returning easier.
  • Self-regulation: You’re welcome to bring and use items which will help with self-regulation, such as fidget toys. Some people prefer to move, walk or sit on the floor rather than a chair – you are welcome to move around or sit on the floor if preferred. We kindly ask people to be mindful of making additional sounds/movements which might distract other delegates. You are welcome to take some time outside of the conference room for movement breaks.
  • Refreshments: Tea, coffee, water and biscuits are provided throughout the day. Lunch is provided and you can share any dietary requirements on the conference booking form.
  • Lunch: Lunch is served in a large separate room. Some people enjoy talking to other delegates during coffee/lunch breaks, whereas others prefer a quieter break and less interaction. You are welcome to take your lunch outside or into the conference and/or coffee break rooms if you prefer, which may be quieter. Please return your plates and cups to the lunch or coffee break rooms after eating.
  • Questions: If you have a question for the panel discussion at the end of the day and do not want to raise your hand and ask it aloud, you can write your question on a post-it note and put it in the box by the door to the conference room and a CDT committee member will read the question to the panel.
  • Handouts from presentations: Electronic copies of the presentations and any supporting materials will be sent to delegates after the conference. You are welcome to take notes throughout the talks, but we do not supply notepaper and/or pens, so please bring your own or a device to take notes on.
  • Feedback: We will ask you to complete some written feedback forms about the speakers and the overall event towards the end of the day.

Location:

  • The British Psychological Society
    30 Tabernacle Street
    London
    EC2A 4UE

How to attend

Registration is required.

Register now

Contact us

If you have any questions please contact us at [email protected].

Registration

Registration is online only and payable by card, we are unable to accept registrations over the phone and invoices cannot be provided.

Register now

The deadline for registration is 18 April 2024.

Cost

Please note: all rates listed are inclusive of VAT at 20%.

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Delegate category Registration fee
Concession Member £48
CDT Member £78
BPS Member £96
Non-BPS Member £114
Charity / Voluntary Sector £78
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How to register

Returning customers (members and non-members)

In order to register for the event you will need to sign in using your BPS website login details.

We have implemented a new Membership Database and if you haven’t received your pre-registration email you will need to request your unique registration link.

Once you have the link, you can complete your registration on our portal.

Once you have registered on the portal please use your username and password to log in and register for the event.

If you have forgotten your login details, you can reset your username or password.

New customers (members and non-members)

If you are not a returning customer, you will need to create your BPS account on the portal. The process is straightforward and takes just a few minutes.

Once you have registered on the portal please use your username and password to log in and register for the event.

Programme

09:00-09:20

  • Arrival & Coffee

09:20-09:30

  • Siobhan Currie (CDT Chair): Opening Address & Welcome

09:30-10:15

  • Session 1 – Dr Becky Hull & Dr Helen Gowling: Being Neurodivergent (ND) in a Neurotypical (NT) World: The Road to Trauma

10:15-10:30

  • Q&A

10:30-11:15

  • Session 2 – Dr Emma Taylor: The Experience and Impact of Attachment/Interpersonal Trauma for Neurodivergent People: Implications for Diagnostic Assessments

11:15-11:30

  • Q&A

11:30-12:00

  • Coffee Break

12:00-12:45

  • Session 3 – Dr Kara Davey: When ADHD and Trauma Co-Exist: Implications for Diagnostic Assessments and Therapy

12:45-13:00

  • Q&A

13:00-13:45

  • Lunch

13:45-14:30

  • Session 4 – Dr Naomi Fisher: Working with Trauma and Neurodiversity: Meeting People Where They Are

14:30-14:45

  • Q&A

14:45-15:30

  • Session 5 – Dr Deborah Kingston & Dr Elena Alexandrou: Trauma Focused Therapy with Neurodiverse Clients in the Real World

15:30-15:45

  • Q&A

15:45-16:15

  • Panel Discussion: Bringing It Altogether: Summarising and Reflecting on Themes from the Day

16:15-16:30

  • Closing Reflections and Feedback Forms

16:30

  • Conference Close

Session 1: Dr Becky Hull & Dr Helen Gowling: Being Neurodivergent (ND) in a Neurotypical (NT) World: The Road to Trauma.

Synopsis of presentation:

It is commonly cited that being neurodivergent in a neurotypical world is  in itself traumatic and neurodivergent adults are over-represented in all mental health categories.

This talk explores some of the principles as to why neurodivergent individuals may be at increased risk of having a trauma response, and what we can do to mitigate this risk. 

Dr Becky Hull, HCPC Registered Clinical Psychologist

Dr Hull is a neurodivergent clinical psychologist who has worked extensively in the field of adult neurodivergence and complex mental health for the past 20 years. She has worked across a broad spectrum of environments including the NHS, private and voluntary sectors.

In November 2022 Dr Hull co-founded (along with Dr Helen Gowling, Clinical Psychologist) The Divergent Space Ltd, a neuroaffirmative assessment and therapy service based in North Yorkshire. Dr Hull and Dr Gowling believe passionately in helping to elevate the voices of neurodivergent adults and to move away from more behavioural models of understanding. 

Dr Helen Gowling, Clinical Psychologist

Dr Gowling qualified with a doctorate in clinical psychology in 2020 but has worked within the NHS since 2014, working with people with a variety of mental health difficulties such as anxiety, depression, trauma and grief. She has also worked with people adjusting to physical health conditions such as stroke and chronic pain.

During her training, Dr Gowling realised that her passion was for improving services for autistic individuals. This was in part due to her own lived experience and that of those close to her. Dr Gowling strongly believes that neurodivergent people should be seen, accepted, and understood as having strengths rather than everything being focused on the challenges.

Dr Gowling is neurodivergent herself and while it is not without its difficulties, it has made her what she is today.

Since Dr Gowling qualified, she have worked within an NHS commissioned specialist Autism team providing diagnostic assessments, recommendations and therapy for autistic adults and as clinical and service lead for a post diagnostic service.

Dr Gowling is currently running a private service in partnership with Dr Becky Hull which specialises in working with neurodivergent individuals. Dr Gowling also offers training to other teams to help raise awareness and knowledge of working with neurodivergent clients. 

Session 2: Dr Emma Taylor: The Experience and Impact of Attachment/Interpersonal Trauma for Neurodivergent People: Implications for Diagnostic Assessments.

Synopsis of presentation:

This presentation will focus on the frequency and form of attachment disruption, attachment trauma and interpersonal trauma in the lives and developmental histories of neurodivergent people.

Dr Taylor will consider how attachment issues and attachment trauma complicate assessment and diagnosis and how to work with this in assessments.

Dr Emma Taylor, Clinical Psychologist

Dr Taylor is a Clinical Psychologist with over twenty years of experience working with neurodivergent adults and children in clinical, diagnostic and academic contexts, and has published research on the early diagnosis of autism and on attachment patterns in autistic adults.

Dr Taylor works therapeutically with adults of all ages and genders, both neurodivergent and neurotypical, who are experiencing common psychological difficulties. She particularly specialises in working with adults who have experienced early trauma, with people making role/identity adjustment, and with people living with chronic illness.

Dr Taylor mainly uses Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), combined with mindfulness and compassion-focused approaches, and all of her work is informed by attachment theory. Dr Taylor also carry out formal assessments for autism and ADHD and works as a supervisor of other therapists.

Session 3: Dr Kara Davey: When ADHD and Trauma Co-Exist: Implications for Diagnostic Assessments and Therapy.

Synopsis of Presentation:

Very early in Dr Davey’s career, she specialised in supporting individuals who had experienced major traumatic events. So, when Dr Davey herself had a traumatic bereavement, she sought out trauma therapy, which really helped her emotionally. However, her executive struggles remained.

Dr Davey realised that she needed different strategies to manage them because they were related to neurodiversity. One of the most common supervision questions Dr Davey hears from clinicians who assess and treat neurodiversity is… is it trauma or is it neurodiversity? Yet so often the answer appears to be that it is BOTH.

In this talk, Dr Davey shares what her personal and clinical experience has taught her regarding best supporting clients who appear to be neurodiverse AND who have experienced traumatic life events. 

Dr Kara Davey, Clinical Psychologist and EMDR Consultant in Training

Dr Davey is the founder of ‘Kara Clinical Psychologist in Sussex’ and ‘Dr Davey Coaching’. She has two areas of specialism: 1) infertility and traumatic child loss; and 2) providing adult ADHD assessments and ADHD Coaching. Dr Davey has lived experience of infertility and baby loss and she has ADHD herself.

She is extremely passionate about what she does. She supports individuals, couples, runs support groups, provides supervision; training and consultancy. Dr Davey also helps organisations to better support new parents; staff experiencing infertility; traumatic grief; and/or neurodiversity. 

Dr Davey’s background in trauma means she really enjoys providing trauma informed ADHD assessments and integrating both ADHD Coaching strategies and trauma therapy to best improve functioning and well-being. You can learn more about the services she offers and access her free resources at: https://linktr.ee/alwaysinmyheart

Session 4: Dr Naomi Fisher: Working with Trauma and Neurodiversity: Meeting People Where They Are.

Synopsis of Presentation:

How do we understand the experience of neurodivergent clients – and how can we as psychologists help them? In this presentation, Dr Fisher will explain how she integrates neurodiversity into her trauma formulation, and then uses this to plan and adapt Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.  She will draw on her clinical experience and her three recent papers about adapting EMDR for autistic clients.  It will be of interest to those who do and don’t use EMDR therapy. 

Dr Naomi Fisher, Clinical Psychologist and EMDR-Europe Trainer

Dr Fisher is a clinical psychologist who specialises in trauma, autism and alternative approaches to education.  She completed a PhD in Autism in 2002 at Kings College London, and then followed this with a DClinPsy, also at Kings College. She worked in primary care and specialist trauma services in the NHS and specialised in EMDR. 

Since 2018, Dr Fisher has been working in private practice, particularly with autistic clients and their families.  She is the author of two books, Changing Our Minds and A Different Way to Learn, both of which are about self-directed education. Recent academic publications include:

Fisher, N., van Diest, C., Leoni, M., & Spain, D. (2022). Using EMDR with autistic individuals: A Delphi survey with EMDR therapists. Autism27(1), 43-53. https://doi.org/10.1177/13623613221080254

Fisher, N., Patel, H., van Diest, C., & Spain, D. (2022). Using eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) with autistic individuals: A qualitative interview study with EMDR therapists. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 95, 1071–1089. https://doi.org/10.1111/papt.12419

Session 5: Dr Deborah Kingston & Dr Elena Alexandrou: Trauma Focused Therapy with Neurodiverse Clients in the Real World.

Synopsis of Presentation:

This session will cover themes relating to:

  • Trauma and neurodiversity: Separation versus combination.
  • Myth busting around suitability for trauma focused interventions.
  • The role of hormones in understanding and working with trauma and neurodiversity.
  • Lived experiences of working in the field with neurodiversity – pitfalls and opportunities, demonstrated via a Q&A role-play.
  • Most of our talk will focus on adaptations to clinical interventions for this client group.

Dr Deborah Kingston, Clinical Psychologist and EMDR Consultant

Dr Kingston is a Clinical Psychologist and EMDR Consultant who specialises in trauma. She has worked in the NHS mainly in forensic services where trauma and neurodiversity were comorbid in presentation. 

Dr Kingston draws on her own personal lived experience of trauma and neurodiversity in her private practice to creatively design interventions for clients with both trauma and neurodiversity.  Being neurodiverse does not mean we are broken; it just means we process information and emotions differently and not all neurodivergence is the same. Let's celebrate our uniqueness.

Dr Elena Alexandrou, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, EMDR Consultant in Training & Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) Trainer

Dr Alexandrou has almost two decades of experience working with complex trauma and dissociative presentations. These clients transcend diagnostic boundaries, including living within the spectrum of neurodiversity. She has two NHS roles  - as a trauma lead and overseeing a staff wellbeing service, alongside a small private practice.

As a second-generation Brit and a child of a refugee, Elena has a passion for increasing access to trauma-focused therapies to marginalised groups and has worked extensively with those fleeing war and political persecution. Dr Alexandrou is also a founding member of the London Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Hub. 

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