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Keywords:

  • anxiety;
  • behavioural;
  • cognitive;
  • group;
  • learning disability

Accessible Summary

  • We held an anxiety group for people with learning disabilities
  • The group ran for 6 weeks and eight people came
  • After the group, we found out if people felt better. We did this by asking them what was good about the group and asking them to fill out questionnaires.

Summary

The effectiveness of group therapy for people with learning disabilities and anxiety management issues is reviewed. People with learning disabilities face increased levels of psychological distress compared to the general population, yet are often faced with a lack of social support and poor coping techniques to manage their distress. A 6-week cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) anxiety management group was delivered to eight adults with a mild learning disability by a trainee psychologist and an assistant psychologist. Participants' ages ranged from 17 to 73 years. All participants lived in the local community. Not all participants had a specific anxiety diagnosis, but all required anxiety management input. A mixed methodology using quantitative and qualitative analysis of group outcomes was used. The outcomes from this group suggest that the intervention was successful in treating anxiety for people with learning disabilities. Measures included the Quality of Life Scale, the Glasgow Anxiety Scale and the Health of the Nation Outcome Scale–Learning Disability Version. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was also used. Data from interviews were coded and analysed thematically. The main themes that emerged included group versus individual input, helpful aspects of the group, talking in front of other people, group composition (including age differences), support partners, and written materials. The outcomes for this group suggest that the intervention was successful in treating anxiety for people with learning disabilities. Practical applications of group therapies for these clients are considered, and recommendations for future groups made. Quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods are compared.