Date of Conferral





Counselor Education and Supervision


Corinne Bridges


Adults with intellectual disability (ID) experience twice the rate of mental health disorders when compared to the general population. Despite increased prevalence of mental health disorders, caregivers supporting adults with ID rarely seek mental health counseling supports, but instead are referred to psychiatric services. There is limited understanding among researchers about the lack of counseling services for adults with ID. The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of mental health counselors who have worked with adults with ID in a counseling relationship. Hermeneutic phenomenology was used to develop thick and rick experiential detail about counselor experiences providing services for adults with ID. The conceptual framework involved the social constructivist and hermeneutic phenomenological lenses. The 8 participants were recruited using a purposive snowball sampling method and provided data through semi-structured interviews. Data analysis involved coding for themes with the help of NVivo software. Findings indicated counselor perceptions of adults with ID as being stigmatized and marginalized within their communities, which aligned with literature. Adults with ID must be prepared for counseling and there must be appropriate adaptations to support meaningful participation and benefit from counseling interventions. Exposure to adults with ID was a factor in counselors being willing to engage with this population, and questions about counselor education and preparedness were a consistent theme. The social implications of exploring this gap will lead to a better understanding of counselor experiences and can inform the professional body about how to increase access to counseling services for adults with ID.