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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Counseling and Human Development

First Advisor

Alan Davis


Historically, high quality counseling services for people with Intellectual Disabilities (ID) has been limited in that there has been a lack of research identifying successful counseling techniques and a lack of understanding regarding counselors’ experiences working with this population. This study was designed to explore counselors’ experiences in working with ID clients, and to determine which counseling techniques they have found to be effective with this population. A qualitative study was developed and conducted using semi-structured interviews that explored the research questions and allowed opportunities for the participants to include their individual experiences and insight. The interviews of eight counselors were analyzed using two rounds of coding. The first round of coding utilized In Vivo coding and the second utilized Descriptive coding. Five themes emerged from the interviews: Trial and Error, Flexible Technique, Meet the Clients Where They Are, Collaboration, and Rapport. The five themes are further categorized under Technical Themes and Relational Themes. The themes also influenced one another, and their interactions played a critical role in the development of effective counseling techniques for people with ID. The results of this study provide a starting point for counselors looking to effectively counsel people with ID; however, there is still room for further research that explores specific techniques, specific adaptations, and counselor attitudes. Counselors that wish to provide mental health vi services to people with ID should familiarize themselves with the interactions of the themes and develop skills accordingly.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

People with mental disabilities--Counseling of.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 40-45)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright