Review provides support for use of psychotherapy with people with learning disabilities but better studies needed

shutterstock_6153463 group therapy circle of empty chairs

The purpose of this brief review was to look at the conclusions of reviews published in the last ten years into the effectiveness of psychotherapy with people with learning disabilities.

The authors conclude that from the findings of those reviews, there is evidence that psychotherapy with people with learning disabilities can be moderately effective, in both child and adolescent and adult populations. They reviews found some evidence of effectiveness in a range of therapeutic interventions are for a spectrum of problems.

The authors conclude that the findings of their review provide support for the continued use of psychotherapy with people with learning disabilities, but they  urge some caution concerning their findings as psychotherapy with people with learning disabilities has not received a great deal of attention and the reviews included do not include a large number of methodologically rigorous studies.

They recommend further research, particularly randomised controlled trials with more specific outcome measures.

Psychotherapy with persons with intellectual disabilities: a review of effectiveness research, Thompson Prout H & , Browning B  in Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities5,5, 53-59

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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