The effectiveness of psychotherapeutic interventions for people with learning disabilities: a critical overview

J Intellect Disabil Res. 2005 Jan;49(Pt 1):73-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2005.00633.x.


Historically, people with learning disabilities have had little or no access to psychotherapeutic interventions, although there are signs that, over the past decade, this situation has seen some gradual improvement. This paper provides an overview of the evidence for the effectiveness of psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioural and cognitive therapies in this client group. The available data support the position that all three approaches can be effective in people with mild learning disabilities and in a proportion of people with more severe conditions. However, the literature reporting outcomes of psychotherapeutic interventions in people with learning disabilities is extremely limited, and there is a conspicuous and unjustified poverty of randomized controlled trials. There is also very little evidence regarding either the importance of specific components of therapeutic packages, or the optimal manner of delivering these interventions to people with learning disabilities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / epidemiology
  • Intellectual Disability / therapy*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome