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Developing an Understanding of the Impact of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy on Adults with an Intellectual Disability with Emotion Regulation Difficulties

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posted on 26.06.2017, 14:35 by Sean Liam Mark Slater
Literature Review: A systematic review of the literature on the use of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) with adults with intellectual disabilities (ID’s) was conducted. The question of effectiveness was examined but a lack of hard evidence indicated that the results were inconclusive. Whilst acknowledging this all the authors offered a consistent view that DBT was an effective intervention for this population. Research Report: This research explored clients’, carers’ and therapists’ experiences of DBT in a community learning disability service. This service is offered to individuals with 'Mild' to 'Moderate' intellectual disabilities with severe emotion regulation difficulties and who are a risk to themselves or others as a consequence of their behaviours. Three separate focus groups were undertaken with groups of clients, carers and therapists. The group transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Similarities in experience across the three groups were identified resulting in three super-ordinate themes of ‘change’, ‘it’s painful’ and ‘development’. These themes suggest that all those who participate in an intellectual disability DBT service will experience change and develop personally and that this process is difficult. The clinical implications of this research support the use of DBT for adults with intellectual disability however it highlights the need for further adaptations to the DBT service in order to improve its effectiveness. Areas for future research are also discussed. Critical Appraisal: This paper provides a detailed critique of the methodology and limitations of the research. It provides the researcher’s reflections on the entire research process, elaborating on the decision-making processes involved and the personal impact of conducting the research.



Melluish, Stephen; Robertson, Noelle

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Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour

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University of Leicester

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