- Can psychotherapy really be useful for people with learning
- Where is it actually happening?
- Which professionals are doing it?
- What types of therapy are useful?
- What training do therapists have?
- What training do they need?
- What is different about psychotherapy and people with learning
- Can people with all levels of disability benefit?
- Which service should be providing this?
- Who needs to know about it?
- Is there any research?
These are just some of the questions answered in this new
Council Report, many of them for the first time. The Joint Faculty
Working Group, which produced it in liaison with many different
interested professionals, took a broad view of their brief ‘to
examine the present position of psychotherapy for people with
learning disability and make recommendations for future training
and service provision’. In doing so they have produced a highly
topical, innovative and informative report with content relevant to
all disciplines who have any contact with people with learning
The report begins with user views of their experience of group
therapy, followed by some examples of psychotherapy in everyday
practice. The small but growing literature and evidence base is
then reviewed and a recommendation made for more outcome research
to be funded. A nationwide survey gives an insight into present
practice and the barriers to accessing services for people with
learning disability. This is followed by a comprehensive
description of developments in services, therapeutic approaches and
their application with this client group and present opportunities
for professional training and development for all
This report demonstrates that there is neither inclusion nor
equity for this needy client group in accessing psychotherapy
services from which evidence shows they can benefit. Present
strategy, in England in particular, appears to value ‘inclusion’ to
the detriment of equity. If these values are to be equally
respected, ordinary psychological services need to be willing,
resourced and trained to meet the needs of those people with
learning disability for whom they could provide. Learning
disability services must be enabled to provide a mentally healthy
emotional environment. Therapists must be trained to deliver
specialist therapy to those with the special needs described. No
single professional group or statutory or voluntary/independent
agency can plan or deliver these services in isolation.
Collaborative joint planning and implementation is required.
Likewise, there are implications for the development of education
and training which apply to many disciplines at different levels of
The report concludes with strong, specific recommendations for
strategy, service planning and delivery and the education and
training of all disciplines, both in specialist and generic
services. It gives a welcome lead and direction where previously
there was none.