Annukka Pietarinen Licentiate Thesis

An aphasic person's speech therapy as an interaction process


Many studies have indicated that speech therapy is useful for aphasic patients, and it has been challenging to identify the main elements behind the healing process. Speech therapy is not only institutional conversation. The interaction between the therapist and the client is important, and in particular, the feedback given by the therapist is a tool with which to lead the therapy process and to motivate the client.

This is a case study about one aphasic clients therapy session, which was analyzed according to the principles of conversation analysis, the therapists feedback being classified in terms of the categories defined by Simmons-Mackie, Damico & Damico (1999).

The aim of this study was to discuss the following questions.

1. What kind of feedback does the therapist give the client and how much?

2. How does feedback contribute to the interaction process and roles in therapy?

This therapy session comprised four different identifiable phases, which differed according to the therapists feedback and changing roles. The feedback was used first to motivate the client and, having facilitated good interaction; it seemed to encourage continuing good performance.

The results indicate, and confirm earlier findings about, the significance of feedback. Positive feedback seemed to be important in terms of motivating the client and building his self-confidence and his confidence in the therapist, and consequently of achieving the best results in this therapy session. The therapists role can change rapidly, from strongly institutional role as the session leader to the role of a more equal partner and motivator in a therapeutic conversation.


Keywords: Aphasia therapy, interaction, feedback, case study, conversation analysis