Therapy for Persons with IDD & Mental Disorders

Counseling for People with Intellectual Disabilities works. There are many Techniques that work for people with IDD and Mental Disorders.

History has not been kind to individuals with Intellectual Disability. More time and energy has been spent on controlling people with disabilities with medication, physical restraints, and restrictions. Counseling has been often excluded as an option.

Where are we today? There is a need for counseling for people with IDD. There is also greater need for Employment, Friendships, Family Support, and Mental Health Services in the light of growing Discrimination and Segregation of people with disabilities. The need for Counseling for people with IDD is due to their Social Loneliness, Emotional Loneliness, and Negative Experiences in life. These factors increase the risk of developing depression and other mental health issues and are very common among people with IDD.

Available research data indicates that almost 50% of the total population of people with Intellectual Disabilities are currently taking at least one psychotropic medication (Reiss). This population appears to be at greater risk of developing depression, anxiety and various mental health issues. Most common current treatments available to people with Co-occurring IDD and Mental Illness are Medication management, Psychiatrist Follow-Up, and Behavior Modification. These are not enough.

What about Counseling and Psychiatric Rehabilitation Programs for people with co-occurring Intellectual Disability and Mental Disorders? It is clear that there is a need. Such need is not often felt because there is lack of education and experience within the counseling profession. Lack of training to professionals on people with co-occurring Intellectual Disability and Mental illness also widely exists . Treatment Techniques have to be altered slightly

Currently, many therapists do not feel comfortable working with individuals with co-occurring Intellectual Disability and Mental Disorders. Sometimes, an assumption is made that people with IDD don’t have the cognitive skills to participate in counseling. However, therapists can be effective with individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities, but often need to approach therapy differently.

How did we get here?? Lack of Education + Lack of Exposure = FEAR. “Us” and “Them”. Today, we have Special Olympics; We have Special Needs; Special Education. “You must need a really, really special counselor to work with those special people”.

Let’s there be “Us”, Not “Them”….Education and Exposure can lead to acceptance, understanding and appreciation. Accurate diagnosis is essential. Multiple methods must be used including self reports, observations, information from staff, family etc. Don’t jump into conclusions, look for possibilities. The “Problem” often is a misconception: behavioral challenges are not the problem…they are a SYMPTOM of the problem. “If you see the problem as the problem, then that my friend is the problem!”

Specific Techniques used are: Basic helping skills that are the same Modified CBT techniques. Solution Focused Therapy; Communication Alternatives; Role Playing Therapeutic Interventions etc.

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