Interaction in aphasia group therapy: effects of context and severity

Elizabeth Armstrong, Lynne Mortensen

    Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract


    This paper discusses findings from a study that investigated patterns of interaction occurring between 5 individuals with aphasia and a facilitator, within a group therapy setting. Group therapy is thought to provide a more ‘natural’ conversational environment and more conversational opportunities than individual treatment settings. However, the nature of, and opportunities for communicative interaction within a group vary according to the purpose of the group (e.g., informal chat, naming activities, discussion of specific topics) and the severity of the aphasic speakers. In this study, the relative contribution of each participant’s ideas, opinions and feelings, and the variety of related speech functions (e.g., challenge, agree, contradict, affirm) were examined across three distinct contexts occurring within a single group therapy session. The data were collected during a music discussion group at UK Connect London, which included 3 contexts: spontaneous chat, specific discussion of the kinds of music in which participants were interested in their 20s, then a section where 1 participant played her favourite CD and the group discussed it. Three contexts were analysed using the Speech Function framework of Eggins and Slade (1997) that grew out of the work of Halliday (1994). The basic premise is that any conversational interaction involves the exchange of information and the related roles of giving and demanding, receiving and responding. These interactive roles can be expressed through a diverse range of speech functions that elaborate and promote the exchange of information, or challenge content within an exchange. The speech function network developed by Eggins and Slade (1997) systematically identifies and classifies this diversity, and hence enables the analyst to examine the kinds of speech functions selected by aphasic speakers, and how they achieve these through verbal and nonverbal means. Results revealed variation in the amount of conversation contributed by the aphasic speakers across the 3 contexts. Some offered more in the spontaneous conversation, while others were more active in the discussions. In terms of the range of speech functions selected, severity of aphasia was a significant factor, and the facilitator used not only more speech functions than the aphasic speakers, but also used them differently. These results will be discussed in detail, together with implications for the expression of identity in individuals with aphasia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)259
    JournalAphasiology Symposium of Australia
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2006
    EventBrain impairment : abstracts from Aphasiology Symposium of Australia - Sydney
    Duration: 30 Nov 20061 Dec 2006


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