What are the experiences of clinical psychologists working with people with intellectual disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic?

J Appl Res Intellect Disabil. 2021 Dec 16. doi: 10.1111/jar.12971. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: People with intellectual disabilities are a particularly vulnerable group, at an increased risk of mortality from COVID-19 and of poor mental health. Psychologists providing mental health support to people with intellectual disabilities report poorer mental wellbeing and higher occupational stress. Moreover, they raise concerns about the ability of people with intellectual disabilities to engage with digital technologies for mental health support in the context of reduced face-to-face psychological provision.

AIMS: The study aimed to understand psychologists’ experiences of working with people with intellectual disabilities during the pandemic.

MATERIALS & METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 psychologists from community intellectual disabilities services. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.

RESULTS: Two superordinate themes emerged. Survive or Thrive highlighted the challenges and successes clinical psychologists experienced while working during the pandemic. ‘Left to Their Own Devices’ described psychologists’ experiences of their clients as forgotten within society.

CONCLUSION: The current study demonstrates psychologists’ ability to adapt to extremely challenging circumstances, exposes the vulnerabilities of people with intellectual disabilities and highlights the gaps in service provision.

PMID:34913546 | DOI:10.1111/jar.12971

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