Ditch the Disorder

Ditch the Disorder

Discover the differences between Autism and Borderline/Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder – what does this really mean for girls and women who have been misdiagnosed?

1-day online CPD workshop

Saturday 30th September 2023 10.00 – 16.30 BST


Cathie Long and Esther Whitney


£85 (Early Bird Rate until 1 September)

£110 (Full Rate)

Who is it aimed at?

Trainees/qualified counsellors and psychotherapists

Course Outline

Many Autistic people are misdiagnosed with a Borderline (or Emotionally Unstable) Personality Disorder (BPD/EUPD), particularly girls and women. This diagnosis often relies on the decision of one clinician, which can be made during a short outpatient consultation (or equivalent).

People with a “personality disorder” are often referred to as “overly dramatic, needy, attention-seeking, unreliable, abusive”, and “to be avoided at all costs.” In contrast to an BPD/EUPD diagnosis, an Autism diagnosis is much more stringent. However, when a person who has been misdiagnosed as “personality disordered” is subsequently assessed and diagnosed as Autistic, in accordance with the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines, their stigmatising BPD/EUPD misdiagnosis can remain relevant, very often to their detriment. As an expert witness and psychotherapist in advanced clinical training, Cathie works with Autistic women who have experienced immense trauma because professionals prefer to accept their previous BPD/EUPD diagnosis.

In this one-day workshop, Cathie and Esther will cover important issues which counsellors and therapists need to consider when working with clients who might fit the stereotype of BPD/EUPD, when the reality is they might be Autistic. During the day Esther, who is an Autistic mother, will share her experiences of how her former misdiagnosis of BPD significantly influenced how professionals perceived her ability to be a good enough parent. All too often, Autistic people get stuck with a misdiagnosis that is “even more reviled and misunderstood than Autism” which incurs experiences of discrimination and marginalisation, and notably it is “many therapists’ least favourite condition to work with” (Price, 2022).

“Instead of categorising individuals as ‘disordered’, there is a need for a more affirming, validating, and empowering model which focuses on the individual’s functional, understandable, healthy, and resilient survival responses” (Hari, 2019).

Learning Outcomes

  • To understand the difference between BPD/EUPD and Autism
  • To recognise the stigma attached to an BPD/EUPD diagnosis
  • To discover what it means to be Autistic
  • To learn how Autistic clients experience trauma rather than attributing their Autistic presentation to trauma
  • How to work with Autistic clients – what works and what hinders?

Course Structure

The key themes Cathie and Esther will cover include:

  • What are the features of a BPD/EUPD diagnosis?
  • Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and other co-occurring conditions.
  • Trauma – how therapists and counsellors can focus on a client’s trauma and miss their neurodivergence?
  • Sensory processing differences
  • A comparison between BPD/EUPD and Autism
  • It’s not just a label: post-diagnostic support for Autistic people
  • What questions do therapists need to ask their clients or curiously consider?
  • Questions/summary

Facilitators Biographies

Cathie Long

Cathie Long is a multi-award-winning independent social worker and an expert witness. Whilst working as a forensic social worker in a Community Mental Health Team, she witnessed the sheer discrimination individuals received when diagnosed as personality disordered. Cathie is in her final clinical training year in Transactional Analysis(psychotherapy) at The Wyvern Institute in Chipping Sodbury. Cathie has an MA in Autism. In her late fifties, Cathie discovered that she is Autistic with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which has been a life-changing experience, giving her a much greater sense of “I’m-OK, You’re-OK”. Cathie has a small psychotherapy practice working with predominantly Autistic women who have a later-in-life diagnosis. Cathie has recently won an award as ‘Most Innovative Mental Health-Focused Social Worker (Wales)’ and was a finalist in the Social Care Wales Innovative Leadership Award accolades, 2023.

Esther Whitney

Esther is an openly Autistic Autism researcher, award-winning artist, and an Autism trainer. She is passionate about Autism and has a particular interest in Autistic girls and women. Her research for her Masters in Autism involved empowering adolescent Autistic females through creative participatory research, with a focus on mainstream education. Autistic females have often been overlooked in the context of Autism-related research and this is not okay. Autistic females can make a very important contribution to the growing body of Autism research, which will enable a better understanding of

their unique experiences. As a trainer, Esther disseminates the latest research into interactive and reflective training to support professionals in working with Autistic people. She uses elements of her own lived experience as

well as reflecting on the current literature. Esther says:

I use art as a literal exploration of my experiences as an Autistic person. Autism is a hidden disability. Throughout my life I have often

been misunderstood, written off, excluded and experienced rights violations. This has led me to be very vocal about my Autism because of a fear of being misunderstood.”

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September 30, 2023 10:00 am
Ditch the Disorder
Registration closed

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