Experiences of therapists conducting psychological assessments and video conferencing therapy sessions with people with mild intellectual disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Cathelijn Oudshoorn-Smit*, Noud Frielink, Heleen Riper, Petri Embregts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Background:
Due to the restrictive measures introduced to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, therapists working with people with mild intellectual disabilities have had to use video conferencing to continue to conduct their psychological assessments and therapy sessions. This qualitative study explored therapists’ experiences of using video conferencing during the initial lockdown period in the Netherlands.

Method:
In total, seven therapists working at a service organisation supporting people with intellectual disabilities participated in this qualitative study (M = 34.4 years; SD = 6.0, range: 26-42). The therapists documented their experiences via audio recordings, which were subsequently analysed using thematic analysis.

Results:
Five themes emerged: 1) An immediate transition to virtual working; 2) Developing virtual ways to support service users in both coping with COVID-19 related stress and with continuing therapy; 3) Lacking the appropriate equipment; 4) Limitations in virtually attuning to people with mild intellectual disabilities; and 5) Unforeseen opportunities for distance-based psychological assessments and therapy.

Conclusions:
This study provides valuable insights into the experiences of therapists using video conferencing to support people with mild intellectual disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. These insights can help inform clinical practice with respect to the use of video conferencing for psychological assessment and therapy with people with mild intellectual disabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Disabilities
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • VIDEOCONFERENCING PSYCHOTHERAPY
  • assessment
  • therapists' experiences
  • therapy

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