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Increasing knowledge of personality disorders in detained women with an intellectual disability

Deborah Morris (Learning Disability Pathway, St Andrews Healthcare, Northampton, UK)
Nathalie Gray (Clinical Psychology, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour

ISSN: 2050-8824

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to describe the evaluation of the “Living with a Personality Disorder” group (Morris, 2011a). This intervention is a psycho-education group for women with an intellectual disability (ID) and a personality disorder (PD). It draws on psycho-education, biosocial theory (Linehan, 1993) and compassionate mind approaches (Gilbert, 2009). It aims to increase knowledge of personality, PDs, to increase awareness of the “non-disordered” parts of self and to increase knowledge of psychological treatments for PD’s.


The intervention was delivered to women detained in a specialist women’s learning disability forensic service. It was delivered over 12 group and two individual sessions. The Knowledge of Personality Disorders Questionnaire (D’Silva and Duggan, 2002), the Self-Compassion Scale (Neff, 2003), the University of Rhode Island Change Assessment scale (McConnaughy et al., 1983) and a series of Likert scale questions and statements were used to assess the utility of the intervention. The intervention was piloted between 2012 and 2014 in a series of small groups. The lead facilitator for each intervention was a registered psychologist with training in dialectical behaviour therapy.


Completing the intervention resulted in an increase in knowledge of PDs, treatments, increased self-compassion and therapeutic optimism and awareness of the limitations of a PD diagnosis.


A new intervention that may increase knowledge of PDs, of personal strengths and increase optimism about change that may be a useful component to the treatment for service users with PDs and an ID.



Morris, D. and Gray, N. (2015), "Increasing knowledge of personality disorders in detained women with an intellectual disability", Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 23-32.



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