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The University of Southampton

PSYC8032 Clinical Practice in relation to people with Intellectual Disabilities

Module Overview

This module outline was written using information outlined in Good Practice Guidelines for UK Clinical Psychology Training Providers for the Training and Consolidation of Clinical Practice in Relation to People with Learning Disabilities – British Psychological Society (2012), alongside the British Psychological Society's core competencies (2016). The learning disability teaching module aims to provide trainee clinical psychologists with knowledge and skills that are required to provide person-centred, effective, safe and dignified assessments and interventions for adults with learning disabilities, their carers and the systems supporting them. The module also looks to develop skills in leaderships, consultation and service development in relation to learning disability services.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Be able to demonstrate appropriate styles of communication with people with a wide range of cognitive ability, this includes teaching and training taking into account the needs of the participants.
  • Demonstrate an ability to work using consultation, work with service delivery models of LD services, develop leadership skills and working effectively within formal systems in a legislative context.
  • Utilize knowledge of assessment processes, theoretical models and evidence based practice in relation to working with people with learning disabilities to work clinically with a range of presenting problems. This includes working with clients across a range of levels of intellectual functioning, significant levels of distress/challenging behaviour, working with carers and families and people with a range of communication difficulties
  • Demonstrate an ability to evaluate different ways of working in LD services, indirectly (through staff/carers), working in multi-disciplinary teams and show an ability to work using at least two evidence-based models of formal psychological therapy.


The learning disability teaching module begins with a two week teaching block which introduces trainees to the Learning Disability field with an overview of historical, cultural and current context. It introduces essential areas of theory and practice in assessment of people with learning disabilities, mental health for people with a learning disability, communication and common themes when working in learning disability services. This teaching block gives an introduction to the adaptation of therapeutic approaches for people with a learning disability and an introduction to assessment and policy of specific conditions and concepts such as dementia and autism and functional assessment of challenging behaviour and positive behaviour support. The module continues into teaching days while the trainees are on placement. This section of the module covers assessing and managing risk in learning disability services, moving on to more advanced practice and approaches with adults with learning disabilities and specific conditions such as Autism, Dementia and Sexuality issues. This section of the module focuses more on the therapeutic techniques used in services such as psychodynamic approaches and systemic approaches to working with adults with a learning disability. It also covers working indirectly, consultation with staff and working systemically with families or staff teams in learning disability services. The module also focuses on leadership, evaluation and service development. The third section of the module focusses on more complex difficulties including offending behaviour for people with learning disabilities, epilepsy and complex health needs and working in conjunction with mainstream mental health services. There aims to be a clear sense of progression in the syllabus supporting trainees to develop their skills in learning disability practice from early introductions to developing a knowledge of working with complex difficulties through evidence based practice.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching time is focused around active adult learning with trainees being engaged in workshops and teaching complimenting formal didactic approaches. Throughout the module there is an emphasis on improving professional practice and this is achieved through using role plays, group work and case studies and examples. Problem based learning is also employed as a teaching method as well as the use of debate about current literature. Teaching is delivered by experienced clinicians / experts in the field. Two service users with a diagnosis of a learning disability are involved at the start of the module, using personal stories, poetry and videos about their everyday lives to enhance students learning.

Independent Study50
Total study time200

Resources & Reading list

Sinason, V., (2010). Mental Handicap and the Human Condition. 

Stenfert Kroese, B., Dagnan, D. & Loumidis, K. (eds) (1997). Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for People with Learning Disabilities Routledge.. 

Carr, A. et al (eds) (2007). The Handbook of Intellectual Disability and Clinical Psychology Practice. 

Nind, M., & Hewett, D., (2005). Access to Communication: Developing the basics of communication with people with severe learning difficulties through intensive interaction. 

Attwood, T., (2006). Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. 

Baum, S. & Lynggaard, H. (eds.) (2006). Intellectual Disabilities: A Systemic Approach. 



Case studies, peer and tutor review of interviews and feedback during practical work


MethodPercentage contribution
Objective Structured Clinical Examination  (45 minutes) 50%
Presentation of Clinical Activity  (75 minutes) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Anything else not covered elsewhere

There will be no specific cost implications beyond the normal cost of your own stationary/resources. The key texts should be available form the University library and we also have electronic copies of the majority of the key documents and where possible electronic copies of other material available on Blackboard.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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