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Modifying and adapting CBT for clients with intellectual disabilities: From research into practice

Prof. John Taylor

Tuesday, 18 March 2025


Adults with intellectual disabilities are likely to experience a range of circumstances and life events associated with an increased risk of developing mental health and behavioural problems, including unemployment, poverty, a lack of intimate relationships and social support networks, stressful family circumstances, and traumatizing abuse. In addition, such clients may have fewer psychological resources available to cope effectively with stressful events, as well as poorer cognitive abilities, including memory, problem-solving and planning skills. Historically there has been a general lack of regard for the psychotherapeutic needs of this client group. More recently, however, there have been indications that modified CBT approaches can be effective in assessing and alleviating some of the symptoms and distress associated with mental health and emotional problems experienced by these clients.

The event will be equivalent to 2.3/4hrs of CPD.


In this workshop the policy and legislative initiatives to address difficulties in access to psychological therapies for people with intellectual disabilities will be outlined, along with the therapeutic disdain that therapists have shown to this client group historically. Developments in the evidence base to support the assessment and treatment of mental health problems experienced by these clients will be described. Modifications to cognitive behavioural interventions to enable people with intellectual disabilities to engage in and benefit from these approaches will be explored using case study materials – along with adaptations and environmental adjustments that are required. Finally, some process issues that can affect outcome and maintenance of treatment gains will be considered.

Learning Objectives

• To learn about the historical context concerning access to psychological therapies by people with intellectual disabilities.
• To be aware of the issues involved in identifying and assessing mental health problems in this client group.
• To learn how to modify cognitive behavioural interventions and make necessary adaptations for this clinical population.
• To consider process issues that can affect the outcomes for these approaches with people with intellectual disabilities.

Training Modalities

Didactic content, case examples, Q&A and polls.

Key References

Dagnan, D., Taylor, L. & Burke, C-K. (2023). Adapting cognitive behaviour therapy for people with intellectual disabilities: an overview for therapist working in mainstream or specialist services. The Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, 16. doi:10.1017/S1754470X22000587

Hassiotis, A., Serfaty, M., Azam, K., Martin, S., Strydom, A. & King, M. (2012). A manual of cognitive behavioural therapy for people with learning disabilities and common mental disorders: Therapist version. University of London. Available at:

Jahoda, A., Stenfert Kroese, B. & Pert, C. (2017). Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for people with intellectual disabilities: Thinking creatively. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Taylor, J.L., Lindsay, W.R., Hastings, R., & Hatton, C. (Eds.). (2013). Psychological therapies for adults with intellectual disabilities. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Taylor, J.L., Lindsay, W.R. & Willner, P. (2008). CBT for people with intellectual disabilities: Emerging evidence, cognitive ability and IQ effects. Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapy, 36, 723-733.

About the presenter

John L Taylor is Professor in the Northumbria Law School and Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology in the Faculty of Health & Life Sciences at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne and Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Approved Clinician with Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust. He is a registered clinical and forensic psychologist. Dr Taylor is a Past President of the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP). He has published more than 150 research papers, articles, books and book chapters mainly concerning the mental health and forensic needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Dr Taylor received an award for Outstanding Contribution to Applied Practice from the BPS Faculty for Forensic Clinical Psychology in 2017 and was made an Honorary Fellow of the BABCP in 2018 for his work on developing CBT for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Who should attend

This event is suitable for mental health practitioners (e.g., psychologists, nurses, social workers, and counsellors) who are required to provide psychological interventions to clients with intellectual disabilities in mental health or social care settings.

Details coming soon

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