Author, teacher, thought leader, keynote speaker
Holly is the Australian author of ‘Reframe Your Thinking Around Autism’, and the creator of Anxiety Reframe Technique (A.R.T.)SM – a new and progressive approach to therapy.
Holly Bridges lives in Perth, Western Australia and travels regularly to North America and Europe She has a husband, two kids, three chickens, two dogs and two cats in a small house with a large outside living area and a huge garden.
Holly studied Psychology and Women’s studies at ECU then worked as a youth worker and educator before having children – whom she home-schooled whilst intermittently following her husband, with their children, into the depths of the Australian Pilbara (outback), sleeping in swags under the stars and running soil sampling programs.
Holly grew up in WA, the daughter of an Anglican priest father and a feminist theologian mother. Many of her parent’s friends were Jungian analysts and intellectuals and Holly had a great upbringing looking at the world from multiple perspectives.
Her passion is teaching children and adults how to enhance their capacity to learn. She is an author, teacher and keynote speaker.
Holly has had a lifelong passion for neuroplasticity and working with the body/mind. She thrives on making complex psychology simple and available to lay people. This impulse to simplify and convey has taken her on a three-continent journey where she is now a leading light in progressive autism therapy.
Holly won the Excellence In Innovation Award in 2018 for her neuroplasticity work that helps people with disabilities improve their physical and social presentations.
She has also been recognised internationally for her book ‘Reframe Your Thinking Around Autism’ which outlines this work.
Commission Secretary Kane Blackman congratulated Ms Bridges on the award and recognised her contribution to people with disabilities and their families.
“The Insurance Commission sponsors the Excellence in Innovation Award at the Disability Support Awards because we want to promote new and improved care approaches that can improve the lives of Australians.
Innovation is key in ensuring the disability sector continues to deliver effective and efficient outcomes to people living with a disability.”
The Early Years
After graduating from Australia’s ECU with a degree in psychology Holly was employed in private and government organisations, working creatively with disadvantaged youth.
After taking time out of public life to raise and home school her two children, she began writing her first book, ‘The Theory of Post Natal Depression and Intergalactic Space Travel’.
Upon returning full-time to the workplace, she began her business ‘License to Think’ to work with children and young adults using brain plasticity techniques as a therapeutic approach to scholastic/learning difficulties.
Many of her students were on the autism spectrum, and it was at this time that she began creating and refining what would become Anxiety Reframe Technique (A.R.T.)SM.
The Autism & Asperger’s Puzzle
Autism became more and more fascinating to Holly as she came to recognise the syndrome in herself.
It explained, as for so many adult women on the spectrum, her life to date.
This spurred her to dig a bit deeper into the theory, research and therapy practices. She discovered that:
- Current thinking, attitude and opinions did not make any sense.
- Therapies that were being applied to autistic people were not as useful as they could be.
Working With and Supporting Those on the Spectrum
Since then Holly has worked for a leading autism provider – earning her a nomination for the Australian National Disability Awards in 2014 – as well as a Post School Options Coordinator and a Community Inclusion Project Officer as part of Australia’s NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme).
Holly was involved in planning and implementation for NDIS with individual clients and she worked closely with a number of organizations around Australia in ideation and collaboration of ideas for implementing co-design and community inclusion. She developed programs for PSO, ran workshops on co-design and mentored staff. All of this was satisfying, yet there was a yearning for more.
A.R.T. – A New Direction
Holly gained a strong desire to develop a more conducive autism therapy. The idea that autism as a ‘brain deficit’ meant that therapists came hard up against a ‘glass ceiling’ of what could be achieved for people on the spectrum. She also saw just how many people were disenchanted with the current system and how much they needed a more expansive and positive model.
Holly began working privately with people based upon the principles of her book.
- She found that certain techniques were extremely beneficial in helping people on the spectrum feel better in their body and better about themselves.
- The changes that she witnessed were powerful, empowering and most of all developed autonomy and self-confidence in her students.
WHAT PEOPLE HAVE TO SAY…
Professor of Psychiatry.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“I became acquainted with Holly in 2014, when she contacted me to evaluate a prepublication copy of her book, Reframe Your Thinking Around Autism: How the Polyvagal Theory and Brain Plasticity Help Us Make Sense of Autism.
Since I developed Polyvagal Theory, I was curious how she would distill the concepts of theory into an accessible volume that would be helpful to those on the autism spectrum, their families, and the therapists and educators who support them. In reading her book, I realized that Holly had a gifted presentation style that enabled her to communicate the optimistic and important principles of the Polyvagal Theory.
Holly continues to refine her clinical style, embodying aspects of Polyvagal Theory, that enable her to support her clients’ journey to have richer lives and to experience the benefits being safe enough to co-regulate with others.
Focusing on witnessing the client’s biobehavioral state and providing cues of safety through own presence and accessibility, she has successfully expanded the range of the social behavior and resilience”.
DR. GERARD COSTA
Former Director, Centre for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health.
Montclair State University, New Jersey
“Holly is an incredible thinker and a sought-after consultant and interventionist with neurodiverse children and families. However her skills as a writer and presenter are extraordinary.
She is warm, engaging and energetic with the capacity to teach about very complex topics in very understandable ways.
One of her special gifts as a presenter is her use of simple line drawings of human and brain/nervous system structures and functions, making the complex interactions come alive, making incredible sense to participants with varying levels of knowledge.
Holly is one of those rare “translators” of science into application and practice. She teaches professionals and families and supports those with developmental difficulties with deep understanding, passion and care.
She is a gift to our work.”