Traditionally, therapy for clients with cognitive disabilities has been concentrated in the speech and occupational therapy realm even though many of the difficulties faced by this population are emotional. Mental health therapy has not been a good fit. It asks clients to talk, analyze, and understand complex emotions which is nearly impossible for many of these clients. EMDR is different.
Benefits of EMDR
EMDR therapy is able to assist clients in working through emotional disturbances regardless of their cognitive or communicative abilities. It focuses on emotions not events and feelings not facts allowing for success in processing.
Triggers such as loud noises, pictures, discussions about negative events and emotional experience can be used to access therapeutic material. This type of therapy can be life changing for a population that is at higher than normal risk for developing PTSD, depression and anxiety.
Identifying 5 core emotions
The second difficulty of providing mental health therapy to clients with mental cognitive developmental disabilities is being able to distinguish between which behaviors are due to a mental health diagnosis and which behaviors are due to the mental disability. This often leads to dysfunctional behaviors and emotional displays generated by mood disorders, grief, or trauma to be written off as part of the developmental disability and left untreated.
Regardless of what the underlying cause of the disturbance is, a client can benefit from being able to identify the five core emotions, find where they feel those emotions in their body and learning how to identify them in other people. This gives clients the awareness they need to to be able to develop a strategy to communicate and deal with difficult emotions when they arise.
Let’s create an individualized treatment plan
If you have any questions about therapy for clients with mental disabilities or how therapy could help them please schedule a time to meet with me. I would be happy to address any of the concerns that you have and discuss an individualized treatment plan.