Individual Counseling for People with IDD and their Family Members

Katy Clouse has over 23 years of experience working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Furman University and a Master of Social Work degree from Middle Tennessee State University. Katy uses a Strengths-Based, Person-Centered approach to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with a focus on empowering people to make positive changes in their own lives by helping them to identify distorted core beliefs that may be affecting how they feel and behave. There is a lot of research into using different types of therapy to help facilitate change for people with IDD. Most research shows that with some accommodations for communication methods and adaptive skills/needs, people with IDD can make gains in therapy. Katy is committed to working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in therapy and recognizes that this is a huge service gap for the people The Arc supports. She will not turn away any person due to acuity level. Katy also recognizes the unique path their family members must walk and wants to help them make positive changes in their lives as well.

Katy is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) working towards clinical licensure under the supervision of Heather Kamper, LCSW. While Katy is working towards clinical licensure, she will see clients on a private pay basis at a minimal cost, typically $25, for a 50-minute session. All fees are payable to The Arc Williamson County at the time of service. The Arc accepts cash/checks and Visa/Mastercard. If using a card, there will be a small service fee. If a person is receiving SSI, there is no charge.

To schedule an intake appointment, please contact katy.clouse@thearcwc.org.

A bit about the research into the efficacy of psychotherapy with people with IDD:

Psychiatric disorders are much more prevalent among people with intellectual disabilities (ID) than the general population (Gobrial & Raghavan, 2012, Gentile & Jackson, 2008). People with ID and co-occurring mental illness (IDMH) are often referred for psychiatric evaluation due to problematic behavior, which can be caused by psychological reasons or medical reasons (Gentile et al., 2014). Most mental health treatment for people with IDMH focuses on managing those behavioral symptoms or teaching social skills rather than addressing the psychological cause of the disturbance (Howells et al, 2000; Kalb et al, 2019). People with ID face barriers to accessing psychological treatments for their mental health concerns. Traditional psychotherapy involves thinking and talking; for a person with ID, this means asking the patient to do work in the area where they may be the most limited (Razza & Tomasulo, 2005). Quite often, psychotherapy providers are not comfortable providing treatment to an individual with ID. Practitioner confidence (or lack thereof) affects the therapeutic alliance between patient and clinician, which then affects patient outcomes (Hronis et. al, 2018). There is also concern of diagnostic overshadowing which occurs when a clinician cannot discern the mental illness due to ID symptoms “overshadowing” mental health symptoms (Razza & Tomasulo, 2005; Hronis et al, 2018). The existing research supports that individual and group psychotherapy models can be effective for people with IDMH if the sessions are designed to individuals’ specific needs.

The studies of treatment approaches show that clinicians can successfully use psychological interventions with people with ID and co-occurring mental illness. Most of these approaches require some modification based on the person or group’s specific communication or adaptive skills/needs. Common modifications are extra time and patience, perseverance, creating a sense of safety for the client, and establishing a strong therapeutic alliance.


  • Gentile, J. & Jackson, C. S. (2008). Supportive psychotherapy with the dual diagnosis patient: Co-occurring mental illness/intellectual disability. Psychiatry, 5, 49-57.
  • Gobrial, E. & Raghavan, R. (2012). Prevalence of anxiety disorder in children and young people with intellectual disabilities and autism. Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, 6(3), 130-140. https://doi.org/10.1108/20441281211227193
  • Hronis, A., Roberts, L., & Kneebone, I. (2018). Assessing the confidence of Australian mental health practitioners in delivering therapy to people with intellectual disability. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 56(3), 202-211. http://doi.org/10.1352/1934-9556-56.3.202
  • Razza, N. & Tomasulo, D. (2005). Healing trauma: The power of group