The present study investigated the state of psychotherapy for people with physical and cognitive disabilities in a systematic review. Specifically, this study analyzed qualitative and quantitative studies which examined therapists’ abilities to conceptualize disability as a dimension of cultural competence, the models and conceptualizations of disability and psychotherapy being used with people with disabilities (PWD) in psychotherapy, and the experiences of PWD in psychotherapy. This study analyzed 18 empirical studies and integrated both qualitative and quantitative methods. Source eligibility criteria for this systematic review was the same for both qualitative and quantitative studies. Eligibility criteria included being: peer-reviewed journal articles, international and domestic locations, in the English Language, and published after 2010. This review excluded case studies. The researchers appraised the quality of each study using the Critical Appraisal Form, and recorded the research variables from each study using the Data Collection and Extraction Form. Data was then entered into customized Excel spreadsheets in the form of Evidence Tables. A synthesis of important findings was conducted to describe the similar themes found in the data. The findings of this research point to the need for further research which includes PWD in psychotherapy, such as improving therapists’ cultural competence, more variety of psychotherapy orientations and models for PWD, and increased narratives of PWD in psychotherapy.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

People with disabilities; Psychotherapy; Cultural competence

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Robert deMayo

Included in

Psychology Commons