Lund, E. M., Andrews, E. E., and Holt, J. M. (2016). A qualitative analysis of advice from and for trainees with disabilities in professional psychology. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 10(4), 206-213.
Most research on the experiences of psychology trainees with disabilities focus on difficulties and barriers that they face. The authors of this article took a different approach by conducting a qualitative study on advice given for, and from, trainees with disabilities. Responses to a single, open-ended survey question was coded using grounded theory techniques. Main themes of responses were: (1) encouraging the seeking of support, resources, and mentorship; (2) self-advocacy; (3) securing accommodations; (4) navigating disability disclosure; (5) encouragement; (6) discouragement and outlining difficulties; and (7) general advice. The importance of pursuing mentorship and support, self-advocacy, and consideration of possible negative outcomes from disclosures were emphasized. It was noted that supervisors and trainees with disabilities rarely overlapped in training environments, reflecting an additional barrier to mentorship. The article closed with several recommendations for making training environments more welcoming to trainees with disabilities and encouraging them to seek support, self-advocate, and strategize early in their training program to manage disclosures and the impact of disability.
I choose this article because it shifts the lens from identifying barriers to proactive strategies that can be used to by trainees with disabilities to enhance their training experiences. Further, the authors transform that perspective into useful recommendations for psychology training program leaders. Finally, I selected this article because it is published in a psychology training and education journal, so it may reside outside the awareness of many rehabilitation psychologists.
THIS MONTH’S REHAB SCIENCE SPOTLIGHT was provided by Scott McDonald, PhD, health service psychologist at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center, Affiliate Assistant Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Member of Division 22's Science Committee.