The first time I accompanied a client who had Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) to a counseling session I was 18 years old, working as a direct care staff. In our 15-minute session, the majority of questions were directed to me. As we exited that office I wondered: why weren’t the therapist’s questions directed towards the person receiving treatment? Why was the session so short? Did the client feel respected and listened to during the session?
A shift has taken place in the world of mental health for clients with I/DD. Treatment manuals and workbooks for clients with I/DD are published in greater frequency and I receive emails on a weekly basis about webinars regarding mental health services for clients with I/DD. Despite this, there continues to be a very small number of clinicians who provide individual therapy to clients with I/DD.
When a client with I/DD or their parent reaches out to me, we discuss the reasons for seeking treatment and the client’s methods of communication and information processing. For example: How does your son or daughter communicate – how does he or she verbally and non-verbally convey when an experience arises that causes discomfort, happiness, confusion, etc.? How does he or she best process information? What level of involvement by family, friends, and/or staff has been most effective in comprehensively meeting the needs of the client? I then consider how conversation and materials can be modified based on individual needs and abilities: whether it may be helpful to include pictorial representations, allow for writing or typing on assistance devices, and include technology such as audio-recorders to capture key points to be reviewed at home.
This post has been contributed by a third party. The opinions, facts and any media content are presented solely by the author, and JewishBoston assumes no responsibility for them. Want to add your voice to the conversation? Publish your own post here.