Exposure therapy for fear of spiders in an adult with learning disabilities: A case report

Felicity A. Cowdrey, Linda Walz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


Accessible summary: Not many researchers have written about therapy for spider fear in people with learning disabilities. In this study, a woman with learning disabilities completed a questionnaire about the therapy she was having for her fear of spiders. The results from the questionnaire suggested that the therapy did help the woman's spider fear. The results should make professionals working with people with learning disabilities think creatively about how therapy for specific fears is done and also the best way to check whether the therapy is helping. Summary: The evidence-base for exposure therapy in people with learning disabilities experiencing specific phobias is sparse. This case study describes the assessment, formulation and treatment of spider phobia in a woman with learning disabilities using an exposure-based intervention augmented with mindfulness practice and bereavement work. To evaluate the intervention, a self-report measure of spider phobia was employed and completed during a baseline (A) and intervention (B) phase. Results demonstrate a reduction in self-reported fear after 11 sessions. This case study illustrates how in some cases modified self-report measures can be used to evaluate psychological treatments in people with learning disabilities and also highlights the importance of being formulation-led and creative when designing exposure-based interventions for specific phobias.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-82
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal Of Learning Disabilities
Issue number1
Early online date19 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Bereavement
  • Down syndrome
  • Learning (intellectual) disabilities
  • Mental health
  • Psychological therapy
  • Research


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