How do Children and Adults with an Intellectual Disability Deal with Trauma?


Children and adults with intellectual disability have less access to any talking therapy even though they have a greater need for specialist trauma-informed work. The very existence of a disability can in itself be traumatic, leading to stigma. Ableism, violence and abuse at the same time as trying to deal with thoughts and feeling about being different lead to post traumatic states that are not addressed. All too often attempts to communicate distress through self-injury and other behavioural means are ascribed wrongly to the disability itself . This paper shows how and why disability in itself impacts developmentally on feelings right from the start..  Disability trauma-informed psychotherapy enables the understanding and processing of complex trauma and dissociation. 


This session was originally presented as a live conference session in October 2021.

Target Audience


Learning Objectives


At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the emotional problems of intellectual disability
  • Describe how intellectual disability can be a trauma in itself
  • Discuss the combination of trauma and disability
  • List the key aspects of disability Therapy
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
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Presenter: Valerie Sinason, PhD
Presenter Bio: Valerie Sinason is a UK poet, writer, child and adolescent psychotherapist and adult psychoanalyst. She has published over 200 papers and 15 books focussing on trauma, dissociation and disability . A former consultant psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic and St Georges Hospital in London she founded the Clinic for Dissociative Studies where she is now Patron . She is President of the Institute of Psychotherapy and Disability, a Board member of the ISSTD and was given the ISSTD 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Available Credit

  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.


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"Your Price" above reflects your final price based on your membership status and career level. 

  • ISSTD defines a student as those enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree or certification in the mental health field and who have an interest in trauma and dissociation. 
  • ISSTD defines an emerging professional as mental health professionals who have completed an advanced degree and are in the first three years of their career (or first three years after graduation for researchers).
  • If you do not fall into one of the above categories please register as Professional/Retired. 

These prices are for Tier I countries. For a list of countries by Tier click here. If you are located in a country that falls into Tier II-VI please contact ISSTD at to receive the appropriate discount code.