Dr Kerry Young

Working with troublesome mental images across disorders

Online CBT workshop

Not currently available

Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Woodfield Trauma Service, CNWL NHS Foundation Trust


Oxford Rose Clinic, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford


Working with images across disorders


Distressing, imagery-based intrusive memories are the hallmark of PTSD. However, they can occur in schizophrenia, depression, OCD, Bipolar Disorder, SAD, eating disorders, personality disorders and beyond. Intrusive mental images of the future can also occur, such as 'flashforwards‘ to suicidal acts or manic pursuits in bipolar disorder.

Mental imagery has extremely interesting properties – it 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.

This workshop will discuss the science and practice of using imagery-based CBT techniques.

The Workshop will aim to:

  • Explain and demystify mental imagery

  • Present what is mental imagery from clinical and theoretical perspectives

  • Illustrate how to assess and ‘micro-formulate’ troublesome mental imagery across psychological disorders

  • Introduce and practise a range of techniques for working clinically with mental images across disorders

  • Use examples of how to apply these techniques in treating PTSD and bipolar disorder predominantly, but other conditions will also be discussed.

The workshop will be as practical as possible, with lots of demonstrations and detailed guidance and scripts on how to undertake each technique. I hope that at the end of the day, participants will feel more confident about where to begin when working with troublesome mental imagery. I really enjoy the work that I do in this area and hope to spread some of that enthusiasm and knowledge to others.

Key references

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

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

  3. 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

  4. Hales, S., Blackwell, S., Di Simplicio, M., Young, K., & Holmes, E.A. (2015). Imagery based cognitive assessment. In D.A. Clark and G. Brown (Eds.), Assessment in Cognitive Therapy. New Brunswick: Guilford Publications


About Dr Kerry Young

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 in the UK on how to train clinicians to work with refugees, PTSD and Complex PTSD. Kerry works with research teams in Oxford University, Sweden, Germany, Iceland and The Netherlands on developing imagery-based interventions for PTSD, Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia. She is an expert in mental imagery techniques and on their life-changing benefits for clients. She trains nationally and internationally on using imagery techniques within CBT, as well as on how to treat PTSD and Complex PTSD.  


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