Generic Training vs. Specialized Training
March 15, 2011 6 Comments
Historically, people are training either in the mental health field or the developmental disability field. Individuals seeking mental health services are generally served by people training in the mental health field. These professionals usually have no training in developmental disabilities. Conversely, professionals in the developmental disabilities field do not receive training in mental health issues. We have developed two separate systems: one in mental health and the other in developmental disabilities. The training in each of these systems is generally of an adequate level for the target population for which they are designed.
But what about people with a dual diagnosis of mental illness and developmental disability. For this population, specialized training for professionals is essential. We need professionals who are cross-trained in both fields. Staff who provide mental health services for this population need to know the developmental perspectives associated with psychopathology. Conducting a mental health assessment requires the knowledge and skills associated with developing a developmental bio-psychosocial model of assessment. For example, assessment of anxiety disorders may be manifested differently in people with mild-moderate levels of intellectual disability compared to severe-profound levels of intellectual disability.
On the other hand, professionals in the developmental disabilities field need to have at the minimum a baseline understanding of signs and symbols of psychiatric disorders in persons with intellectual disability. The distinction between what is considered a psychiatric disorder vs. a behavioral problem is a clinical challenge, but one that can be best understood through specialized cross-training.
NADD is committed to providing specialized cross training. We do this through a variety of methods, including: annual conference, international conference, teleconferences, books, other training materials, and consultation services.
Robert J. Fletcher, Founder & CEO, NADD