Using repertory grid techniques to measure change following dialectical behaviour therapy with adults with learning disabilities: two case studies

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Government strategy indicates that individuals with learning disabilities should have access to adapted psychological therapies. Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is recommended for the treatment of borderline personality disorder (BPD); however, there is little published research regarding whether it can be appropriately adapted for adults with learning disabilities. The research available primarily focuses on measures of behavioural and psychiatric change, with little emphasis on the psychological changes that occur.

Materials and Methods:

Two case studies are presented that using repertory grid technique, based on personal construct psychology (PCP). Both individuals completed repertory grids prior to, and following, adapted DBT for adults with learning disabilities within a specialist community psychology service in the United Kingdom.


The case studies show some of the psychological changes that have occurred within adults with learning disabilities who received adapted DBT within a community psychology service. Changes included altered self-esteem and dilemmas individuals have about themselves.


The contrasting case studies demonstrate the complexity and idiosyncrasy of the experiences of individuals with learning disabilities who receive DBT, and discuss how this information can be integrated into clinical practice.

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