Workshop 3: Thursday 16th July 2020

Using Imagery Techniques to Help People with Complex Reactions to Trauma

Kerry Young, Woodfield Trauma Service and Oxford Rose Clinic, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford

Distressing, imagery-based intrusive memories and flashbacks to past trauma are the hallmark of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Complex PTSD. However, they can occur in psychosis, depression, OCD, Bipolar Disorder, SAD, eating disorders, personality disorders and beyond. This workshop will discuss the science and practice of using imagery-based techniques to work with these phenomena. The emphasis will be on working with intrusive images in complex PTSD presentations, but time will also be given to how to analyse and intervene with troublesome trauma-related imagery in any psychological presentation.

Mental imagery has extremely interesting properties - recruits similar brain areas to actual perception, enhances memory and learning and, compared to verbal processing, it has a more powerful impact on emotion. Learning how to 'harness' the power of mental imagery to help alleviate distress is an important tool for any CBT practitioner.

Key learning objectives:

1. Understand how to assess troublesome trauma-related imagery

2. Learn about the neuroscientific findings which help to explain the power of mental images

3. How to select treatment targets within complex trauma presentations

4. Discuss and demonstrate how to use imagery re-scripting and meta-cognitive techniques to intervene with distressing trauma-related images

5. How to extend these imagery techniques across other presentations.

I hope that at the end of the day, participants will feel more confident about where to begin when working with distressing trauma-related imagery. I really enjoy the work that I do in this area and hope to spread some of that enthusiasm and knowledge to others.

Kerry Young is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Lead of the Woodfield Trauma Service in London, UK, a leading centre for the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees suffering from PTSD. She also works at the Oxford Rose Clinic, a service for the medical and psychological treatment of women who have experienced Female Genital Mutilation. She has advised national bodies on how to train clinicians to work with refugees, PTSD and Complex PTSD. Kerry is an expert in mental imagery techniques, particularly imagery re-scripting, and its life-changing use with clients who have experienced complex trauma. She has published in the field of trauma and mental imagery.


Arntz, A. (2012). Imagery Rescripting as a therapeutic technique: Review of clinical trials, basic studies and research agenda.Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 3(2), 189-208

Holmes, E. A., & Mathews, A. (2010). Mental imagery in emotion and emotional disorders. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(3), 349-362.

Holmes, E., Hales, S., Young, K. & Di Simplicio (2019) Imagery Based Therapy for Bipolar Disorder and Mood Instability. Guilford Press

Pearson, J., Naselaris, T., Holmes, E. A., & Kosslyn, S. M. (2015). Mental imagery: functional mechanisms and clinical applications. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 19(10), 590-602

Registration Fees: BABCP Members Non-Members Student Members
Workshop £80 £100 £60

Register now