Conversation therapy for aphasia: a qualitative review of the literature.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

International journal of language & communication disorders / Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists



Medical Subject Headings

Aphasia; Communication; Humans; Interpersonal Relations; Language Therapy; Social Behavior; Speech Therapy; Verbal Behavior


BACKGROUND: A diverse literature addresses elements of conversation therapy in aphasia including intervention rooted in conversation analysis, partner training, group therapy and behavioural intervention. Currently there is no resource for clinicians or researchers that defines and organizes this information into a coherent synopsis describing various conversation therapy practices.

AIMS: To organize information from varied sources into a descriptive overview of conversation therapy for aphasia.

METHODS & PROCEDURES: Academic search engines were employed to identify research articles published between 1950 and September 2013 reporting on conversation therapy for aphasia. Thirty articles met criteria for review and were identified as primary sources for the qualitative review. Using qualitative methodology, relevant data were extracted from articles and categories were identified to create a descriptive taxonomy of conversation therapy for aphasia.

MAIN CONTRIBUTION: Conversation interventions were divided into descriptive categories including: treatment participants (person with aphasia, partner, dyad), primary guiding orientation (conversation analysis, social model, behavioural, relationship centred), service delivery (individual, group), focus of intervention (generic/individualized; problem/solution oriented; compensatory), training methods (explicit/implicit; external/embedded), activities or tasks, and outcomes measured. Finally, articles were categorized by research design. There was marked variation in conversation therapy approaches and outcome measures reported and a notable gap in information about one-on-one conversation therapy for individuals with aphasia.

CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS: This review provides a description of various conversation therapy approaches and identified gaps in the existing literature. Valid measures of natural conversation, research on one-on-one conversation approaches for individuals with aphasia, and a systematic body of evidence consisting of high quality research are needed.





First Page


Last Page


PubMed ID



Published as: Simmons‐Mackie, N., Savage, M. C. and Worrall, L. (2014), Conversation therapy for aphasia: a qualitative review of the literature. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 49: 511-526. https://doi.org/10.1111/1460-6984.12097