Psychodynamic psychotherapy in severe and profound intellectual disability

Julian Himmerich (East London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK)

Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities

ISSN: 2044-1282

Publication date: 1 April 2020

Abstract

Purpose

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is increasingly adapted and used with individuals with intellectual disability (ID) and mental health difficulties. However, the evidence base is still small and largely based on case studies and small trials whose participants mainly have mild to moderate ID. This paper aims to review and critique the literature in regards to the adaptations; and the effectiveness of psychodynamic psychotherapy for those with severe and profound ID.

Design/methodology/approach

A systematic literature search of PsycINFO, Social Policy and Practice, Medline, Cumulative Index to nursing and allied health literature and applied social sciences index and abstracts was conducted. Six studies met inclusion criteria and underwent a quality evaluation and critical review.

Findings

Six papers (all case studies) met inclusion criteria and underwent a quality evaluation and critical review. Some adaptations to therapy were reported, such as a more flexible therapeutic frame and increased use of the physical environment as a therapeutic tool. Due to significant methodological weaknesses of the included studies, it is yet unclear whether psychodynamic psychotherapy is an effective intervention for individuals with severe and profound ID.

Research limitations/implications

Only a small number of case studies met the inclusion criteria. Further research should use more robust outcome measures, larger samples and compare psychodynamic psychotherapy to alternative interventions.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to review the psychodynamic psychotherapy literature with regard to its effectiveness as a treatment specifically for individuals with severe and profound ID and mental health difficulties.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The work was initially written as part of a university coursework, hence the solo authorship and no funding.

Citation

Himmerich, J. (2020), "Psychodynamic psychotherapy in severe and profound intellectual disability", Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 45-60. https://doi.org/10.1108/AMHID-11-2019-0037

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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