RPSE 560
Psychosocial Aspects of Disability and Chronic Illness
Fall 2006

Instructor: David A. Rosenthal, PhD, CRC
Office: Dept. of Rehabilitation Psych. and Special Ed.
432 N. Murray Street, Room 413
Telephone: (608) 263-5751
Email: drosenthal@education
Office Hours: By appointment

Teaching Assistant: Teaching Assistant: Zheng Xi (Lisa)
Office: Dept. of Rehabilitation Psych. and Special Ed.
432 N. Murray Street, Room 419
Email: Email:
Office Hours: By appointment

Note: I wish to fully include persons with disabilities in this course. Please let me know if you need any special accommodations in the curriculum, instruction, or assessments of this course to enable you to fully participate.

Required Text: Chan, F. & Leahy, M. (Eds.), (2005). Case Management for Rehabilitation Health Professionals. 2nd Edition. Aspen Professional services, Osage Beach, MO.

Note: Reading assignments from the text will be primarily from Volume II

Required Reader: Available at Bob’s copy Shop across from the Fluno Center on University Ave.

Goals and Objectives
The primary learning objectives of "psychosocial aspects of chronic illness and disability" include the following:
1. To examine societal attitudes toward people with disabilities, with special emphasis on how attitudinal and environmental barriers restrict community integration and participation in society generally;
2. To explore how societal attitudes affect the lives of people with disabilities and to delineate strategies through which these attitudes can be modified/become more positive;
3. To examine and understand the contributions of theories of personality to the study of psychosocial reactions to loss and disability;
4. To describe the role of developmental concepts (e.g., body image, self-concept) in adjusting to disability;
5. To review models of psychosocial adaptation to physical disability with special emphasis on the process (e.g., experiences, reactions, behaviors, phases) of adaptation;
6. To gain knowledge of the commonalities (transpersonal) and individualities (personal) of the experiences and reactions that follow the onset of disability;
7. To increase understanding of the process of familial psychosocial adaptation to the onset of disability of one of its members;
8. To become familiar with the application of counseling/therapeutic intervention strategies to working with people who are physically disabled (i.e., strategies for coping with adjusting to disability);
9. To recognize the role of human intimacy and sexuality in the adaptations process to disability;
10. To become familiar with the rights and needs of users of rehabilitation services, with a special emphasis on client advocacy and the independent living movement.



There are two exams scheduled for this course. Exams will be based on both assigned readings and class lectures.

Reaction Papers

Each student is to read one book - either fiction or non-fiction - that relates to the experience of illness or disability. Write a 3 to 4 page typed paper relating the book to course content. Focus on:

1) how the author treated the topic of disability or illness;

2) how the book specifically related to course readings and/or lecture material;

3) your personal reaction to the book.

Reaction papers are due 11/13

Term paper

A 8 to 10 page term paper is due by 12/4. Papers must conform to APA style (5th edition). These term papers should address issues in the psychology or sociology of disability. Examples of acceptable topics include:

* Psychosocial aspects of AIDS or substance abuse
* Gender and/or racial differences in disability
* Sexuality and disability
* Disability policy in the U.S. as reflected in legislation and social attitudes.

Some possible questions to consider when conducting the literature review for your paper are:

a. Does the research address the total problem? What are the "gaps" in knowledge? Why? What is not being researched?

b. Is your sample of articles representative of the literature in general? Or is your sample biased? Does your sample represent the entire literature? If not, how and why did you choose these articles for inclusion?

c. What professional group is doing the research? Where are they writing?

d. When did they start investigating this issue and why?

e. Is there a consensus? Too much consensus? Is the literature redundant?

f. Any opposing views? By whom?

g. Is the research of practical value? Theoretical value?

h. Is research descriptive? Empirical? Anecdotal?

i. What are your conclusions?

Some hints. Choose your topic carefully so that you are neither overwhelmed with literature, nor faced with a paucity. Start your library research early as articles may have to be ordered from interlibrary.


Attendance is very important. One excused absence will be accepted, beginning with the second absence, five points per absence will be deducted from the final point total.

Students who need course materials in alternative formats are asked to contact the instructor immediately. Reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate your needs.


Should there be a project of compelling interest to you that you wish to do instead of the assigned papers, please contact either of us and we shall discuss it.

If you have any suggestions of speakers, please contact either of us. We are especially interested in the families of persons with disabilities -- parents, siblings, and/or children who would be willing to speak candidly about their experience.


Term paper 25%
Reaction paper 15%
Exam I 35%
Exam II 25%

Policy on Missing Exams and Paper Deadlines:
In general, missing exams and paper deadlines will not be excused. Papers not received on the due date may lose a letter grade for each day they are late.________________________________________
Grading Criteria
A = 93-100%
A-= 90-92%
B+= 87-89%
B = 83-86%
B-= 80-82%
C+= 77-79%
C = 73-76%
C-= 70-72%
D+= 67-69%
D = 63-66%
D-= 60-62%
F = Below 60%

Schedule of Topics and Assignments

9/11 Introduction and orientation
Overview of course objectives, activities, and requirements.

Models of disablement

Sociology of Disability

Psychological Issues-language/labeling

• Reader (p.1) - Introductory thoughts -Hockenberry & Patterson
• Reader – (p. 2-13) Language - Blaska, Skaalen
Sociological perspectives – Amado, Gove
Models of service and Rehabilitation Philosophy
• Text: Chapter 2

9/18 Attitudes and attitude change

Disability as portrayed in media

• Reader – (p. 19-29; 41a-50) Disability in Media – Kriegel, Elliot & Byrd,
• Reader – (p. 31-39) Telethons - Johnson, Williams
• Reader: (p. 51-54) ATPD scale example

9/25 Adjustment and coping

Psychosocial aspects of disability ¬ Basic and advance concepts
Factors influencing individual reactions to disability
Developmental concepts
• Reader: (p. 55-64) Vash – Disablement
• Reader: (p. 65-73) Wortmen & Silver – Myths of coping with loss
• Reader: (p. 123) Six principles (Schontz)
• Reader: (p.124) Livneh’s model
Coping and adjustment and Stage models
• Text -Chapters 15 and 16

10/2 Sexuality and disability

• Reader: (p. 189-199) Sexual abuse and exploitation –Tharinger
• Reader: (p. 200-206) MR and mutual consent - Kaiser
• Reader: (p. 207-211) Ethics and sexuality - Held
• Reader: (p. 212-221) Preventing abuse - Held
• Reader: (p. 223-236) PLISSIT model and miscellaneous
Implications for specific disability populations –Developmental disabilities
• Text - Chapter 25

10/9 Spirituality
• Reader: (p. 237-250) McCarthy
• Reader: (p. 251-256) Boswell
• Reader: (p. 257-260) Clark
• Reader: (p. 261-276) Lane
• Reader: (p. 277-281) Levy,

Implications for specific disability populations –TBI, SCI
• Text - Chapters 18 and 20

10/16 Specific populations
The impact of substance abuse in interaction with disability
• Text Chapter 24

Implications for specific disability populations –HIV and AIDS
• Text - Chapter 21

10/23 Psychosocial aspects of grief and loss
• Reader – (p. 125-130) Dealing with grief and loss, Grief reactions
• Reader: (131-151) Death experience/anxiety studies
• Reader: (153-160) Suicide assessment
• Reader: (161-164) Psychosocial stressors, BDI example
• Reader: (165-173) Cognitive Behavioral intervention flowcharts

Specific implications for disability populations –Psychiatric disability and origins of psychopathology
• Text - Chapter 19

10/30 Mid-term exam

11/6 Begin Guest presentations

11/13 Guest presentations Reaction papers are due

11/20 Guest presentations

11/27 Guest presentations

12/4 Guest presentations Term papers are due
Take home final exams will be handed out - Due 12/15

12/11 Guest presentation and course wrap up

Last modified: Friday, 1 December 2006, 01:51 PM