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Clinical psychology and disability studies: bridging the disciplinary divide on mental health and disability

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Disability and Rehabilitation
Issue number14
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)1299-1304
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date22/09/14
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Purpose: Clinical psychology and disability studies have traditionally occupied very different academic, philosophical and political spaces. However, this paper aims to illustrate the positive consequences and implications of attempts to understand and bridge this disciplinary divide. Method: A narrative review format was used with evidence selected pragmatically as opposed to systematically. The construction of the argument determined the evidence selected. Results: The concept of psycho-emotional disablism, which originated within disability studies, is argued to be a useful concept to bridge the divide between understandings of distress from both disability studies and clinical psychology perspectives. However, this can be usefully augmented by psychological research on the mechanisms through which disablism can affect individuals. Conclusion: Perspectives from both disability studies and clinical psychology can be usefully combined to bring important new perspectives; combined, these perspectives should help – on theoretical, service and social levels – to improve the mental health of disabled people.Implications for Rehabilitation

Mental health is an important determinant of overall health-related quality of life and psychological therapy should be available for those disabled people who would value it.

Psychological therapists working with disabled people should be more aware of the challenging social context in which disabled people live.

Understandings of distress should not just include individual factors but also incorporate the psychological impact of stresses caused by societal barriers preventing inclusion.

Psychologists should be more willing to work and engage at a societal and political level to influence change.