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Promoting psychological well-being of people with severe to moderate intellectual disabilities

DATE: November 4, 2022 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
CONTENT: This symposium is about the treatment of psychological problems in people with an intellectual disability by the application of creative art therapies and attachment therapy
TARGET GROUP: Creative art therapists, psychologists and orthopedagogues
SPEAKERS: Karin Volkers (chairwoman), Paula Sterkenburg, Thomas Bergmann, Silke Reimer, Sophia Krause, Regina Fabian and Henri Koelewijn
LANGUAGE: Presentations during the symposium will be in English
LOCATION: at Cursus- en vergadercentrum Domstad, Utrecht
ACCREDITATION: Accreditation will be requested at NIP K&J/NVO OG and Register Vaktherapie
REGISTRATION: The price is € 195 p.p. FORTIOR is exempt from VAT

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Treatment of psychological and behavioural problems

Research shows that nearly 40 percent of all adolescents and adults with intellect disabilities have mental or behavioural problems. This vulnerability appears to be even higher among people with visual and intellectual disabilities. Examples include: problems as a result of a trauma; mood problems such as depression; (separation) anxiety complaints; grief processing problems, problems in processing loss experiences and/or acceptance problems; attachment problems; emotional problems such as low self-esteem or insufficient coping skills. The good news is that treatment is possible.

Treatment of psychiatric problems is aimed at recovery and/or adequate coping. By offering treatment, more intensive care and guidance facilities for these clients can be prevented, out-of-home placement can be avoided and daytime activities/work can be maintained. There are different forms of treatment besides talk therapy, such as approaches based on music, art, dance and drama, and psychomotor therapy. For serious attachment problems, there are also highly specialized forms of treatment such as ‘Attachment Therapy’. This form of treatment helps to stimulate the emotional and social well-being of people with psychological problems and with severe to moderate intellectual disabilities.


International symposium

Dutch and German scientists and practitioners will speak at this symposium. Scientific knowledge is regularly exchanged within the framework of the EAMHID. The organisation thought it would be an interesting idea to share this knowledge and practical experience with a wider audience. Due to the international character of the symposium, the lectures will be in English.


Choice between online or physical participation

At this symposium you may choose whether you want to participate on location or online. The Audio Utrecht company will ensure that the symposium is recorded professionally. If you participate online you will need a fast internet connection and a laptop/desktop with speakers and microphone. We will be using Zoom during the symposium.

If you want to participate online, please tick this on your registration form. Register via this link


This symposium is organised in cooperation with:


This symposium will cover:

– The prevalence of mental health problems in people with moderate to severe intellectual disability with and without visual impairment:
– Treatment of attachment problems;
– Using a social-emotional approach
– The application and evidence of creative arts therapies to address the needs of people with impaired speech and sensory issues on a non-verbal, experience-based level;
– How different treatment forms are used in practice for people with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities.


Preparation and study load

The symposium can be followed without preparation.

The study load consists of the number of contact hours; the number of contact hours is six.


Opening by Karin Volkers, the chairwoman of the day


Mental health problems in people with severe to moderate intellectual disability: prevalence, risk factors and treatment options

Paula Sterkenburg, gezondheidszorgpsycholoog


Creative arts therapies in treatment and support of people with intellectual developmental disabilities and mental health problems: overview and evidence of efficacy

Thomas Bergmann, music therapist

Opportunity to ask questions


Usic music in the social-emotional aproach

Silke Reimer, music therapist

Opportunity to ask questions




The use of art in the social-emotional approach

Sophia Krause, psychodynamic art therapist

Opportunity to ask questions




Attachment Therapy

Henri Koelewijn, orthopedagoog generalist

Opportunity to ask questions




Improvisation and synchronisation – Using drama and movement-based interventions in the social emotional approach

Workshop bij Regina Fabian, family therapist and drama educator & Thomas Bermann, music therapist


Closure by the chairwoman Karin Volkers



Karin Volkers, PHD, studied human movement sciences after which she did her PhD with Erik Scherder in clinical neuropsychology. She has been working at Philadelphia Care Foundation (Philadelphia) since 2011 where she started as a health policy officer. In 2013 she started setting up a centre for knowledge management and scientific research at Philadelphia. Now she represents Philadelphia in 12 scientific consortia, is chairwoman of the science council and co-promoter of 3 PhD students who are doing research at Philadelphia on DigiContact (professional 24/7 digital support) for ambulatory people with intellectual disabilities (ID), Integrated Emotion-Oriented Care for older people with ID and the effects of making music with people with ID and Challenging Behaviour. Since 2020, she is also a senior researcher at RadboudUMC Primary Care Medicine - Medicine for people with intellectual disabilities, where she is involved in a proactive health study for people with ID.
Information will follow.  

Introduction Paula Sterkenburg

Professor Paula Sterkenburg is endowed chair 'People with a visual or visual and intellectual disability; social relations & ICT' at VU University Amsterdam. The chair was established by the Bartiméus Foundation and the Bartiméus Fund. The chair links two care areas, care for people with a visual disability and care for people with a visual and mental disability. In addition, the chair links science and practice by underpinning applications and testing them in practice. She is coordinator of the academic workshop 'Social Relationships and Attachment' of Bartiméus, Ons Tweede Thuis, Vrije Universiteit. Current projects include: 'EMB and ICT'; 'Social relations and ICT'; 'Robot Bart stops brooding'; 'Stimulation rug for children with visual impairment'. https://research.vu.nl/en/persons/paula-sterkenburg/publications/
In creative arts therapies (CATs), mainly music, art, theatre and dance interventions are applied by specially trained professionals to promote psychosocial well-being. In this context, the product is less important than the process in terms of elementary expression and playful social interaction. Due to the meta-verbal nature of the media, CATs seem to be particularly appropriate for people at lower levels of functioning with limited language. However, systematic research on the effectiveness of these interventions with people with intellectual disabilities is in its infancy but shows some promising results.  

Introduction Thomas Bergman

Thomas Bergmann, PhD, is a certified music therapist with PhD in psychology and head of the therapy department of the Treatment Center for Mental Health in Developmental Disabilities at KEH, Berlin. Next to his clinical work he is supervisor in own practice. His research interests are on creative arts in therapy, autism spectrum disorder, social-emotional development and assessment reflected in numerous international publications.
Due to various conditions some people with severe multiple disabilities neither play instruments in music therapy nor react to the music of the therapist. Findings in developmental psychology show that a balanced emotional state is the basis of attentiveness and any positive development. Music therapy based on developmental psychological knowledge aims at activating body awareness, at regulating affects and ultimately at finding one's own means of expression. This often leads the person with severe multiple disabilities to contact with oneself and subsequently contact with the environment and fellow human beings.  

Introduction Silke Reimer

Silke Reimer, PhD, is a certified music therapist and has been working with adults with severe multiple disabilities since 1999. She is a lecturer at the University of the Arts in Berlin. The main focus of her work and her research interests are music therapy based on developmental psychology and affect regulation. She is co-author of the music therapy Assessment of the Quality of Relationship (AQR) and giving workshops on its application aiming to promote treatment fidelity.
Depending on their socio-emotional development, patients have different abilities and needs when dealing with the material world and making art. By looking at the artistic development and putting it into context with the socio-emotional development, we aim to better understand the artistic expressions of our patients. This can help to provide patients in art therapy with suitable interventions which meet their needs and abilities and support them in their further development based on their current developmental stage.  

Introduction Sophia Krause

Sophia Krause has a master’s degree in psychodynamic art therapy (University of Art, Berlin) and is currently working at the Treatment Center for Mental Health in Developmental Disabilities at KEH, Berlin. Since 2009 she has been working in educational and therapeutic contexts with people with intellectual disabilities including a sheltered workshop for artists with disabilities, in integration assistance with a focus on autism-spectrum-disorder and as an art therapist at a psychiatric department for children and adolescents. Next to therapy her focus is on project-based art education.
Many people with intellectual disabilities have a disturbed attachment development. Some have been diagnosed with an attachment disorder. They usually have many stress and emotion regulation problems in daily life. Within the care for people with intellectual disabilities, various interventions are aimed at making the stress manageable. Think of a predictable daily rhythm, a safe living environment, reliable guidance style, etc. Sometimes this is insufficient. In those cases, Integrative Therapy for Attachment and Behaviour (ITGG) can help by building an attachment relationship between client and therapist and working on behavioural modification. In this context, the client learns, with support from the attachment relationship, to handle stress. After this behaviour modification, much attention is paid within the therapy to generalisation to daily supervision.  

Introduction Henri Koelewijn

H.C. (Henri) Koelewijn works as a NVO Orthopedagoog-Generalist at Amerpoort. There, he is connected to the expertise line EVB+ and works at various residential and work locations as a behavioural expert for children and young adults with a mental disability with challenging  behaviour.  Henri also gives Integrative Therapy for Attachment and Behaviour to adolescents and adults with an attachment disorder.
Drama-based interventions offer the possibility to playful interact, change perspective and to try out new behavior. Concerning changes developing a new awareness on social interaction, increasing coping abilities and the ability to socialize are reported. Using improvisation is mentioned as a core process in the drama-based interventions for people at a lower level of functioning. Interventions using improvisation focus on the activation of resources and mutual support. Imitation of gesture can be seen as an early stage of contact. In this workshop mirroring exercises and synchronous movement exercises will be conveyed as well as improvisation exercises which promote body awareness and basic social skills. In playful improv and synchrony-based dance and movement exercises participants will learn about this approach on a bodily level.  

Introduction Regina Fabian

Regina Fabian is a certified family therapist and drama educator (University of Art, Berlin) working as a theatre therapist at the Berlin Treatment Center for Mental Health with Developmental Disabilities at KEH, Berlin. For over 25 years, she has dedicated herself to improvisational theatre (improv) and is active in the professional training for social educators, curative educators, and behavioural therapists. She has been dedicated to improvisation theatre for over 25 years being a member of one of the oldest German improv groups Die Gorillas (Berlin) and has been invited to several international improv festivals. She has already presented her improv intervention at various international congresses (EAMHID and DGPPN Congress).


The content of this symposium relates to children, adolescents and adults with a severe or moderate intellectual disability.


Target group

The workshop is meant for remedial educationalists, psychologists and occupational therapists who work with children, adolescents and adults with an intellectual and/or mental disability.  Other professionals who are interested in the subject are also welcome.

Network of Europeans on Emotional Development (NEED) https://eamhid.eu/need/
There is a reduced rate for NEED members.



Accreditation will be requested from:

– the accreditation agency NIP K&J / NVO OG. After granting, this accreditation is also valid for the SKJ;
– Register Vaktherapie

For Dutch participants: Other accreditations in consultation: do you need another accreditation than mentioned above? Then you can discuss with FORTIOR whether this accreditation can be applied for. Please contact inschrijvingen@fortior.info for more information.


Certificate and attendance

Every participant will receive a certificate as proof of participation.

For Dutch participants: This certificate lists the accreditations and their ID numbers.

For the register of NIP K&J / NVO OG, FORTIOR will enter the attendance. For this, FORTIOR needs the number with which you are registered in the register of the professional association. Make sure that your number is known to FORTIOR.

Date & location

The symposium will take place on November 4, 2022 from 9:30 to 16:45 at Bartiméus Doorn, De  Kapel, Oude Arnhemse Bovenweg 3, 3941 XM Doorn.


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