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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An investigation into the psychological help-seeking attitudes of persons with visual impairments. Heaslip, Sean Richard


The present study explored the relationships between visual impairment status, attitude towards seeking psychological services, attitude towards visual impairment, and a variety of demographic and psychological variables. A survey design was employed with persons with visual impairments (defined as having a visual acuity of 20/200 or less) residing in either Canada or the United States of America. Participants in this study were 84 legally blind (a visual acuity ranging from 20/200 to 20/600) and 109 severely visually impaired (a visual acuity of 20/600 or less) adults between 21 and 64 years of age. Measures administered in the survey included (a) the Attitude Towards Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale - Short Form, (b) the Disclosure Expectation Scale, (c) the Distress Disclosure Index, (d) the Self-Stigma of Seeking Help Scale, (e) the Stigma Scale for Receiving Psychological Help, (f) the Social Responsibility About Blindness Scale, as well as a demographic questionnaire. Descriptive statistics (means, standard deviations) and inferential statistics (two-way ANOVAs, t-tests) were calculated, as well as inter-correlations among the above variables. Results indicated that legally blind participants held more negative attitudes than did severely visually impaired participants towards disclosing distressing personal information, and toward visual impairment. A statistically significant gender effect was found on attitudes towards seeking psychological services, with female respondents reporting more positive attitudes. Results also indicated that positive attitudes towards visual impairment had significant positive correlations with attitudes towards seeking psychological services, the anticipated benefit of seeking services and comfort with disclosing distressing information, and significant negative correlations with the anticipated risk of seeking services, and both self-stigma and public stigma towards psychological services. The findings from this study will help to inform future research into counselling persons with visual impairments, and are the first steps toward establishing a knowledge base regarding this population’s attitudes towards psychological services. The current study offers valuable suggestions for exploring what would make best clinical practices with this population. The present study contributes to the lack of counselling psychology research on disability, and lends credibility to the field’s focus on diversity, having been conducted by a researcher with a visual impairment.

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