Compassion-focused therapy for trauma in people with intellectual disabilities: A conceptual review

Megan Cowles, Catherine Randle-Phillips, Andrew Medley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (SciVal)


Trauma exposure and post-traumatic stress disorder are more prevalent in people with intellectual disabilities (PWID) than in the general population, yet the evidence base for trauma interventions in this population is sparse. Compassion-focused therapy (CFT) may be particularly well-suited to PWID for a number of reasons, including its adaptability to different developmental levels. PWID are more likely to have issues with self-relating (e.g. shame and self-criticism) and attachment than the general population, two issues that are compounded by trauma and which CFT explicitly seeks to address. Furthermore, compassion-focused approaches emphasize cultivating a sense of safeness while empowering people to make behavioural changes; this is particularly pertinent to PWID who have been traumatized and may feel unsafe and disempowered. An overview of CFT and its application to trauma are given, as well as some case studies using CFT with PWID.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-232
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number2
Early online date14 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


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