Treating Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities and Challenging Behaviors With Adapted Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Brown, J. F., Brown, M.Z., & Dibiasio, P. (2013). Treating individuals with intellectual disabilities and challenging behaviors with adapted dialectical behavior therapy. Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 6(4), 280-303.
Julie F. Brown
Skills System at Justice Resource Institute
Warwick, Rhode Island
Milton Z. Brown
Department of Psychology
Alliant International University
Justice Resource Institute, Supports to Empower People (STEP)
Cranston, Rhode Island
Approximately one third of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities have emotion dysregulation and challenging behaviors (CBs). Although research has not yet confirmed that existing treatments adequately reduce CBs in this population, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) holds promise, as it has been shown to effectively reduce CBs in other emotionally dysregulated populations. This longitudinal single-group pilot study examined whether individuals with impaired intellectual functioning would show reductions in CBs while receiving standard DBT individual therapy used in conjunction with the Skills System (DBT-SS), a DBT emotion regulation skills curriculum adapted for individuals with cognitive impairment. Forty adults with developmental disabilities (most of whom also had intellectual disabilities) and CBs, including histories of aggression, self-injury, sexual offending, or other CBs, participated in this study. Changes in their behaviors were monitored over 4 years while in DBT-SS. Large reductions in CBs were observed during the 4 years. These findings suggest that modified DBT holds promise for effectively treating individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.