Counseling Clients with Disabilities: Introduction to the Issues


This course is the foundation one of Mental Health Academy's Fostering Ability series. The purpose of these courses generally is to build your capacity as a mental health professional to provide high-quality support and appropriate therapeutic interventions to this group of people whose needs have been largely misunderstood and under-recognized. The specific aim of this course is to acquaint you with the issues which surround the counseling of people with disabilities. What are those issues, and how do they impact on the lived experience of those labelled "disabled"? How shall we think about "disability", particularly "intellectual disability"? What theoretical notions should guide not only our thoughts, but also the frameworks we set up for helping, and the very interventions we undertake with such clients in our practice? What, finally, are the principal issues with which successful counselors of clients with intellectual disabilities must be familiar? Those who experience disability are disadvantaged over "normal" people on just about every continuum we can use to measure, for a wide range of reasons at every level from individual through family, institutional and societal. Thus coming to grips with the complexity of their situation is a challenging task. In this course we focus mainly on intellectual disabilities, although in many instances we point out how most types of disabilities share a similar situation.



Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to: Define "impairment", "disability", "activity limitation", and "participation restriction" and list the main types of disabilities; Cite the main statistics pointing to evidence of lower socioeconomic and educational status by people with disabilities; Name the principal issues resulting for clients experiencing intellectual disability; Examine the relative merits of a medical model paradigm and a social constructivist paradigm when working with those who have a disability; Discuss the chief considerations to bear in mind when counseling clients with intellectual disability.