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Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is increasingly used to address the emotional and interpersonal problems of people with ID. There is a limited but promising evidence base supporting this activity. However, these individuals face real and continuing challenges in their lives that have implications for their self and interpersonal perceptions. These adversities have implications for the adaptation of CBT. First, it may mean that characteristically negative perceptions may be more common and may be the result of a complex interaction with a truly aversive environment and should not simply be considered as cognitive distortions. Secondly, clients may have limited control over their everyday lives, with limited opportunity to negotiate change with their informal and formal sources of support. This review suggests that it is important to consider the interpersonal context of therapy both to ensure effective work within sessions and to enable real change in clients' everyday lives. The review draws upon Vygotsky's theory of the zone of proximal development and ecological models of change to consider the challenges of establishing collaborative relationships and the potential to use CBT within a broad psychosocial model. The aim is to offer a helpful framework for practitioners and to identify directions for future research.