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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The experience of counselling for individuals with particular learning disabilities Samson, Piers


Clients with specific deficits in communication, memory, processing of information, or attention, may have difficulties with the counselling process. This study was been designed to explore the experiences of individuals with these specific deficits in counselling, and thereby increase awareness of the existence and effect of possible barriers or supports in the counselling process. The methodology used was Interpretive Description, developed by Sally Thorne (Sally Thorne, Kirkham, & O'Flynn-Magee, 2004). Ten individuals with particular learning disabilities (one or more of the above deficits) who have experienced counselling were interviewed. Up to four interviews were conducted with each participant; one screening interview, an initial interview, an optional interview including a significant other, and a member check at the end of the study. The researcher recorded a field and research journal during data collection. For the initial and optional interviews the researcher gathered transcripts, and then immersed himself in the data, in order to find themes about the participants’ experiences of counselling. The participants confirmed themes for accuracy and completeness. Finally, four participants contributed a short paragraph at the end of the thesis, nine participants contributed drawings that represented their counselling experience, and five participants created poses representing their relationship with their therapist. These alternate forms of data were used as further evidence in the study. The data gathered demonstrated that participants believed that they needed a more flexible approach to therapy which depended on having a safe relationship with a therapist that was sensitive to their needs. Although certain kinds of counselling processes were preferred by certain participants, the participants’ particular cognitive deficits were not the determining factors of what kinds of help the participants wanted in therapy. Rather, the participants were more interested in the creation of a counselling process based on a collaborative approach between them and their therapist, dependant on the participant’s knowledge about his or her needs and the therapist’s experience in counselling and with learning disabilities.

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