What's it like to work with a clinical psychologist of a specialist learning disabilities service? Views from people with learning disabilities


E-mail: Clive.gifford@berkshire.nhs.uk


Accessible Summary

  • We want to know what people with learning disabilities think about working with clinical psychologists.
  • We interviewed eight people with learning disabilities about their experience of seeing a clinical psychologist.
  • We summarised all the information we got from the interviews to share it with other professionals and with service users.
  • We used the information to make our psychology service more helpful for our service users.
  • We want to include the views of people with learning disabilities in planning our psychology service.


Clinical psychologists are well placed to work with people with learning disabilities given the high prevalence of psychiatric disorders in this population and the specialist training undertaken by psychologists. The evidence for psychological interventions in learning disabilities is scarce compared to the evidence for mainstream psychological interventions. This is because of the methodological issues in conducting quantitative research. A way forward to add to the evidence is to use qualitative methods to investigate the views of people with learning disabilities. The aim of the present study was to explore the views of eight people with learning disabilities about their experiences of working with clinical psychologists. Thematic analysis revealed three themes from the narratives: the therapeutic relationship, change and the expectations/perceptions of participants about clinical psychologists. When developing the quality of clinical psychology services for people with learning disabilities, providers should consider the views of people with learning disabilities in accordance with government policy. Limitations of the study are highlighted and further research suggested.