IAPT practitioners’ experiences of providing therapy to people with intellectual disabilities

Jennifer Shankland (ST5 Psychiatry of Intellectual Disability, Community Learning Disability Team, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, Chorley and South Ribble, United Kingdom.)
Dave Dagnan (Department: Community Learning Disability Service, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Workington, United Kingdom.)

Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities

ISSN: 2044-1282

Publication date: 6 July 2015



The purpose of this paper is to describe the views and experiences of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) practitioners in providing therapy to patients who have an intellectual disability in order to support IAPT services in increasing their capability in this area.


An online survey was conducted of IAPT practitioners in four IAPT services in the north of England. The survey collected respondents demographic information and their experience, confidence and attitudes to working with people with intellectual disabilities. Qualitative responses regarding respondents attitudes, views of barriers, problems, successes and possible solutions to the delivery of therapy to people with intellectual disabilities within IAPT services were collected. The survey results were interpreted by thematic and statistical analysis.


The majority of respondents report having worked with people with intellectual disabilities and identify the need to adapt therapy, but also believe that such therapy should be offered within mainstream services. Thematic analysis identifies the needs for support in training, therapy adaptation and adjustment to pathways. However, the majority of respondents could identify positive outcomes and experiences.

Research limitations/implications

This data supports the further development of pathways and offers some broad frameworks for the focus of training and development work for people with intellectual disabilities within IAPT.

Social implications

This project has identified a positive attitude and willingness to consider adaptation of therapy for people with intellectual disabilities in practitioners working within IAPT services.


Until now the views and experiences of IAPT practitioners in working with this patient group were relatively unknown.



Shankland, J. and Dagnan, D. (2015), "IAPT practitioners’ experiences of providing therapy to people with intellectual disabilities", Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 206-214. https://doi.org/10.1108/AMHID-02-2015-0008

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