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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Facilitated Conversation Groups for People With Aphasia: A Cognitive Ethnographic Study
by Archer, Brent E., Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2016, 339; 10163321
Abstract (Summary)

Group conversation, as a complex, collaborative, and emergent activity involving people with aphasia (PWA) and their interlocutors, remains an important intervention approach for helping stroke survivors to achieve therapeutic gains. These include increased linguistic processing capacities, improved psychosocial outcomes, and a greater ability to (re)construct a positive sense of identity while living with a language impairment.

At present, very little micro-level data and analysis on how facilitators manage group conversation involving several neurologically impaired adults exists.

This qualitative, ethnography-based study aimed to furnish a more complete understanding of how therapists manage interactions by answering several questions. The main question addressed was: What verbal and/or behavioral mechanisms are used by facilitators during group therapy involving PWA and other relevant individuals to ensure that therapeutic aims (such as a desired distribution of speaking turns and improved access to communicative participation for PWA) are achieved? I observed three skilled facilitators working at three different sites conducting group therapy. At each site, five 30-45 minute sessions were recorded. Video recordings of conversations constituted the primary data source in this study. Additional data sources included transcripts of in-depth interviews conducted with the facilitators and notes detailing investigations of the artifacts and other resources used in conversational therapy.

The analysis enlisted concepts drawn from the discipline of cognitive ethnography (Hutchins, 2000) as analytical tools and lenses for creating and extending theories relevant to elucidating interaction. This paradigm compelled me to conceptualize conversation as a distributed activity and to investigate how people interact with one another and non-living entities in the environment when engaged in purposeful human action. Facilitators were found to be oriented to three goals: topic management, participation management and intersubjectivity management. In order to pursue these goals, facilitators and group members would co-operate in the construction of a number of recurring behavioral complexes, labeled processes. Each process consisted of intermeshed actions (such a discourse moves, gestures, device use, etc.) undertaken by facilitators, co-facilitators, and people with aphasia. Crucially, elements external to the human participants also contributed to the processes. The possible effects that long-term enrolment in facilitated group conversations might have are also discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Damico, Jack
Commitee: Muller, Nicole, Nelson, Ryan, Tetnowski, John
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: Communicative Disorders
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-B 78/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Speech therapy, Cognitive psychology
Keywords: Aphasia, Cognitive ethnography, Facilitated conversation, Group therapy
Publication Number: 10163321
ISBN: 978-1-369-18013-8
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