Allan Skelly, Victoria Shimmens

Love, Attachment and Intellectual Disability: Meeting Emotional Needs and Developmental Trauma

The book Love, Attachment and Intellectual Disability  highlights the importance of early attachment and the trauma that can occur when this basic emotional need is not met.


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Love, Attachment and Intellectual Disability came about from the authors’ experience working together in clinical learning disabilities services, and their work to move the focus away from the management of challenging behaviour and towards a trauma-informed, attachment-based approach to caring.

It introduces some of the key theories that have informed our understanding of the emotional development of people with intellectual disabilities and the importance of receiving love from an attachment figure from a young age. There are case studies that focus on the lives of particular individuals – sometimes presented as individual therapy sessions and sometimes an overview of progress across many sessions.


Clinical psychologists; learning disability specialist clinicians, front-line care staff, nurses and allied health professionals; students of these disciplines; professional and family caregivers of people with intellectual disabilities; care provider organisations.


Publisher: Pavilion Publishing and Media

ISBN: 9781803883243

Publication date: January 2024

Pages: 140


Foreword: Professor Nigel Beail
Chapter 1: Why this book is needed
Chapter 2: Klein, Bowlby, Mahler & Došen:
Theories of our need for love
Chapters 3 – 16: Individual case studies
Chapter 17: The Team: We’re flagging
Chapter 18: What the science says: Dismissing attachment does not stand
Chapter 19: Putting love at the heart of care services


Victoria Shimmens is an Assistant Psychologist at NHS England. In 2021 she co-wrote a chapter with Allan Skelly and Aimee Corner about the long-term outcome of using Positive Behaviour Support interventions in The Bulletin of the Faculty of People with Intellectual Disabilities.

Allan Skelly is the 2019-2021 Chair of the Faculty for People with Intellectual Disabilities (FPID) of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and Consultant Clinical Psychologist with Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust. Allan was chair of the working group which produced the 2017 BPS clinical practice guidelines for the integration of Attachment Theory into the work of clinical psychologists in the UK.



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