Date of Conferral







Sandra Mahoney


People with intellectual disabilities (ID) experience trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in similar ways as individuals in the general population. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and describe clinicians perceptions of trauma treatment for people with ID. Theories of trauma, PTSD, and stigma were part of the conceptual framework from which interview questions were developed. Purposive and snowball sampling were used to recruit 8 participants in the Denver, Colorado area. Four participants had experience working with people with ID, and 4 participants did not have this experience. Participants sat for semi structured open-ended recorded interviews, which were used to gather data for interpretation. Eight essential themes were identified: (a) chosen field, (b) lack of training, (c) stigma and stereotypes, (d) they're just folks like us, (e) preying on their vulnerabilities, (f) PTSD and trauma symptoms are the same with people with ID, (g) EMDR and the adaptive information processing theory, and (h) mindfulness interventions. The participants dispelled myths such as people with ID do not experience trauma and PTSD, and people with ID cannot participate in trauma therapy such as EMDR. Participants who had experience working with people with ID wanted more training on adaptations for treatment interventions, and participants without this experience welcomed advanced training on trauma treatment for people with ID. This study adds to the research on trauma treatment for people with ID and may affect social change by inspiring more conversations among clinicians on appropriate trauma treatment for people with ID. Clinicians with experience can build stronger relationships with community mental health centers, and continue to educate, clients, families, direct care providers, and agency personnel on trauma-informed care.