Award in Beyond Intellectual Disability: Current Psychotherapy Approaches

MQF Level: 7

ECTS Value: 5 ECTS

Duration: 3 Weeks

Contact Hours: 25

Self Study Hours: 60

Assessment Hours: 40


Overall Objectives and Outcomes

This module gives course participants the opportunity to enhance and adapt therapeutic practices with individuals with intellectual disability. The module will explore themes of both behavioural and relational psychotherapeutic approaches which can be applied in addition to the participants’ pre-acquired therapeutical skills. The course participants will engage and critically evaluate best practices in disability psychotherapy.

By the end of this module, the learner will be able to:

Entry Requirements

Applicants are to be in possession of a minimum of MQF Level 6 (180ECTS) in Social Work, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Psychiatry or related area deemed relevant by the Institute of Education.


a) Apply acquired knowledge to critically assess integration of new concepts into existing therapeutic approaches;

b) Effectively support individuals with Intellectual Development Disability by acquiring supplementary knowledge of evidence-based practices, adaptive strategies, and individualised interventions;

c) Consider the genetic and epigenetic factors influencing the onset and manifestation of Intellectual Development Disorder;

d) Appreciate neuroscientific principles in the analysis of attachment patterns, considering the emotional aspect, interpersonal relationships and mental health outcomes;

e) Engage in the process of undertaking disability psychotherapy with a client who has intellectual disability;

f) Integrate the tenets of expressive arts approaches based on client needs and therapeutic goals;

g) Consider therapeutic interventions to accommodate diverse cognitive abilities for individuals with Intellectual Disorders;

h) Explore the integration of a safe and non-judgemental space for clients to explore and address issues pertaining to sexuality, intimacy and relationships.


a) Define and explore the factors contributing to General Development Disorder in multiple areas of development;

b) Describe the various causes, classifications and interventions associated with Intellectual Disability;

c) Define Disability Psychotherapy as a modality of psychotherapy;

d) Explain how healthy emotional development underpins cognitive growth;

e) Examine the relationship between consciousness and emotional life;

f) Recall continuous experience of emotional misattunement throughout infancy and childhood;

g) Explain how neural processes underpin and influence attachment behaviour;

h) List the fundamental aspects that make up the core ethos of disability psychotherapy;

i) Describe the essential elements of the pre-therapy assessment phase;

j) Explain the three levels of psychotherapeutic interaction;

k) Understand the best practices in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy adopted for individuals with Intellectual Disability;

l) Outline best practices of the internal working model in relational work;

m) Explain the risk factors for abuse on adults with an intellectual disability;

n) Explain the basic tenets of Trauma Informed Care


a) Understand and evaluate the shift in neuroscience;

b) Critically understand the concept of ableism;

c) Apply critical thinking to assess the implications of genetic, genomic and epigenetic variations on Intellectual and Developmental Disorder considering potential target interventions;

d) Analyse the impact of neurobiological factors on cognitive, social and behavioural aspects in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders;

e) Evaluate the effectiveness of pre-therapy considerations in enhancing the efficacy of disability psychotherapy;

f) Understand the window of tolerance in therapeutic settings;

g) Apply modified Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques to address cognitive, emotional and behavioural challenges for clients with Intellectual Disorders;

h) Implement therapeutic interventions related to sexuality and relationships;

i) Assess Autonomic Nervous system responses in clients, integrating this into therapeutic interventions;

j) Apply client-centred and trauma informed approaches that consider individual differences in emotional regulation;

k) Conduct comprehensive assessments of trauma histories, symptoms and individual needs with clients with intellectual disabilities;

l) Look out for the core clinical issues during therapeutic sessions;

m) Understand and practice self-care for practitioners;

n) Demonstrate awareness of how ableism can negatively impact relationships with client with Intellectual Disability.

Assessment Methods

This module will be assessed through: Case Study, Presentation and Assignment

Suggested Readings

Core Reading List
  1. Wehmeyer M., Buntinx W., Lachapelle Y., Luckasson R., The Intellectual Disability Construct and Its Relation to Human Functioning. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Volume 46, Number 4: 311–318 (2008)
  2. Schalock R., Luckasson R., and Tassé M., The contemporary view of intellectual and developmental disabilities: Implications for psychologists. Psicothema, Vol. 31, No. 3, 223-228 (2019)
  3. Sinason, V. Mental Handicap and the Human Condition. Revised Ed. London: Free Association Books (2010)
  4. Corbett, A. ed. Intellectual Disability and Psychotherapy. The theories, practice and influence of Valerie Sinason. London: Routledge. (2019)
  5. Cottis, T., ed. Intellectual Disability, Trauma and Psychotherapy London: Routledge. (2009)
  6. Porges, S. Polyvagal Safety. Attachment, communication, self-regulation.  New York: Norton. (2021) 
Suggested Readings List
  1. Marrus N., Hall L., Intellectual Disability and Language Disorder. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. (2017)
  2. Vasudevan P., Suri M., A clinical approach to developmental delay and intellectual disability. (Lond) (2017)
  3. Gupta N., Deciphering Intellectual Disability. Indian J Pediatr. (2023)
  4. Moeschler JB., Shevell M., Committee on Genetics. Comprehensive evaluation of the child with intellectual disability or global developmental delays. (2014)
  5. Bertelli MO., Cooper SA., Salvador-Carulla L., Intelligence and specific cognitive functions in intellectual disability: implications for assessment and classification. (2018)
  6. Campbell, F. Kumari Contours of Ableism: The Production of Disability and Abledness London: Palgrave McMillan. (2009)
  7. Chesner, A., Creative Drama Groupwork for people with Learning Difficulties London:Routledge. (2020)
  8. Fosha D., Siegel D. & Solomon, M.(eds.), The Healing Power of Emotion: Affective Neuroscience, Development and Clinical Practice New York: Norton. (2009)
  9. Hughes B., Civilising modernity and the ontological invalidation of disabled people. In: D. Goodley, B. Hughes, & L. Davis (eds). Disability and Social Theory: New Developments and Directions (pp. 17-32). London: Palgrave Macmillan. (2012)
  10. Prendiville E., and Howard J., EdsPlay. Therapy Today. Contemporary practice with individuals, groups and carers. London: Routledge. (2014)
  11. McGrath, E., Moving beyond words: dance and movement in psychotherapy for people with disabilities. Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists Journal. (2013)
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