Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation (PhD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Brent Williams

Committee Member

Keith Vire

Second Committee Member

James Lampinen

Third Committee Member

Daniel Kissinger


Psychology, Health and Environmental sciences, Developmental disabilities, Dual diagnosis, Mental health counseling, Phenomenology


Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are often not included in traditional mental health treatment services due to beliefs that these individuals cannot benefit from mental health counseling and that mental health clinicians are not capable of treating this population. Some research exists that discusses techniques and interventions recommended to serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in mental health; however, there is little information on the specific counselors who are willing and able to support this population. A qualitative methodology was utilized to examine the phenomenon of mental health practitioners with experience serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Five clinicians participated in the study. Five rich participant narratives were captured as a result of those interviews. From those, 52 themes were extrapolated to create a composite depiction of counselor experiences, and four exemplary components of these experiences were deduced: adapting to differences, systemic barriers to services, supporting the support system, and universal human value.